According to Tatiana Stanovaya, a scholar who writes about Russian domestic and foreign policy, Putin thinks he’s winning the conflict in Ukraine. In her analysis, his first goal is to control the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, a military result he believes is inevitable over time.
His second goal is for Kyiv and Western-aligned leaders in Ukraine to capitulate. He thinks that in one or two years their country will be exhausted by the war, unable to function normally, and profoundly demoralized. At that point, he expects a movement to end the war that will oust the Zelensky administration and bring the country into Russia’s orbit.
Stanovaya writes that Putin’s third goal is to build a new world order. In her view, he believes the traditional political elites ruling Western countries are overlooking genuine national interests and are incapable of strategic thinking. He expects nationally oriented leaders such as Viktor Orban in Hungary and Marine Le Pen in France to rise up, break with the old order, and fashion a new one. In this new world order, the West would become friendly to Russia, granting Putin’s security demands and accommodating his vision of a Russian empire for the twenty-first century.
Stanoyava calls this scenario “wishful to the point of impossible” and warns, “sooner or later, Mr. Putin will face reality. It is in that moment, when his plans are stymied and his disappointment high, that he is likely to be most dangerous.”
“Let us not grow weary of doing good”
Baseball games are played because no one knows the winner beforehand. A nation’s best aeronautical engineers can fail to anticipate a tiny problem that could produce a historic disaster. No one can be sure how or when the conflict in Ukraine will end.
The good news is that our sovereign Lord sees the future better than we see the present and calls us to trust him for his best: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
However, this famous promise is preceded by a vital condition: “The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (v. 8). As biblical scholar William Hendrickson explains, the phrase “sows to the Spirit” means “to allow the Holy Spirit to have his way.” Such a person “walks” by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and is led by him (Ephesians 5:18).
When we are thus yielded to God’s Spirit, we will experience God’s power to persevere in God’s purposes and “in due season we will reap.”
“Imagine yourself as a living house”
This week we’ve been discussing ways to trust the will of God in uncertain times. Today, let’s embrace the fact that God leads all who will follow and gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.
There are many ways to follow our Father. Our Creator has made us as we are and invites us to walk with him in ways that are consistent with our personality, experiences, and spiritual temperament. (For nine practical ways to experience God, please see my latest book review, “Two reflections on ‘Sacred Pathways’ by Gary Thomas.”)
The key is complete trust in our Father and complete submission to his purposes for us. C. S. Lewis illustrates this fact in one of the most famous passages in Mere Christianity: