The Russian "domino theory" has been a constant narrative since the very beginning of the war in Ukraine, with US and European politicians claiming that western nations must ensure that the government in Kiev does not fall, otherwise Russia will be emboldened to invade Europe next. Just as the domino theory was used to convince Americans to support the strategically pointless Vietnam War for eight years, the same ploy is being applied to Ukraine today.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky exploited the talking point in a recent address to the world recorded from a nondescript location (possibly a bunker), as he made the bizarre claim that Ukraine soldiers and weapons were the only thing protecting Europe from the Russian military march. One has to wonder how he came to that conclusion given Ukraine can barely protect itself, even with hundreds of billions of dollars in NATO funding and hardware.
Ukraine is NATO's mercenary army— the Lemniscat (@theLemniscat) June 25, 2023
Zelensky: Ukrainian soldiers, guns, Ukrainian tanks and missiles are all that protect Europe from such marches seen today in Russia. When we ask to be given F-16 fighters or ATACMS, we're enhancing our common defense. pic.twitter.com/F9LFJNsYgt
Zelensky is a former comedian and actor with zero military experience, making his public persona as the courageous leader of a ragtag Ukrainian rebellion precarious at best. There is little doubt that his insights on military engagements in the region are scripted for him.
Logistically, an invasion of greater Europe would be impossible for Russia to pull off on its own, if only because it is a vast territory that would require sizable occupation forces. Beyond that, 3.5 million NATO troops on average are stationed in Europe, making a successful offensive untenable. Then, there's the issue of nuclear attack, which would become a real possibility for both sides should an open war between NATO and Russia break out.
In fact, the longer the Ukraine war goes on, the more the threat of a nuclear event grows. Ukraine is like a bottle nitroglycerin - The more western governments play around with it, the greater the chance it will explode in their hands. The most rational course of action would be the pursuit of a diplomatic solution, but NATO leaders have essentially thrown that idea out the window. The message? Europeans and Americans are stuck with Ukraine until the bitter end.
Previous comments by Zelensky have promoted the notion of a greater war should Ukraine fail. He argued in March that:
“The U.S. is never going to give up on the NATO member states...If it happens so that Ukraine, due to various opinions and weakening, depleting of assistance, loses, Russia is going to enter Baltic states, NATO member states, and then the U.S. will have to send their sons and daughters exactly the same way as we are sending their sons and daughters to war. And they will have to fight. Because it’s NATO that we’re talking about, and they will be dying, god forbid, because it’s a horrible thing.”
It's hard to say whether this was a warning or a threat. The conflict has been steady for 16 months with no signs of slowing. Zelensky, like many in the western media, jumped the gun too quickly on the possibility of a coup by the Wagner Group – Salivating over a potential civil war in Russia that would destabilize the government and cause Putin to run. The situation ultimately evaporated in the span of 24 hours.
Reports so far on the long awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive are not positive, with their NATO backed troops gaining little ground beyond a handful of small villages while suffering extensive losses in personnel and armored vehicles.
Zelensky has gone on to suggest that Russia may be planning an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. The theory makes little sense given that such an attack could send irradiated fallout straight into Russian territory. It makes about as much sense as the accusation that Russia blew up the Kakhovka dam and created a larger barrier blocking their own offensive forces, or as much sense as Russia blowing up their own gas pipeline to Europe when they can simply shut it off.