The Strong Do as They Will: Putin’s Gambit in Ukraine

By Hunter Oswald

“Putin usurps historical reality with potential reality, thus proving Russia’s illegal incursion.”

Russian Invasion

On February 24, 2022, the world was shaken by shockwaves from artillery shelling and explosions of missiles in cities, airports and fields across Ukraine, as Russian Forces invaded from Belarus, Donetsk, and Crimea. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came after Putin’s speech announced the commencement of military operations under the casus belli, “occasion of war” or justification for war, of defending ethnic Russians in the Donbass region which he claims “have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime.” After Russia’s invasion commenced, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, The President of Ukraine, immediately declared martial law and ordered a general mobilization of the Ukrainian population to enlist in the armed forces. The invasion has forced more than 842,513 Ukrainians to flee to Western Europe, while thousands of other Ukrainians rush to enlist and fight for their country’s freedom and sovereignty. Heavy fighting has continued to persist throughout the country with extensive urban warfare by Ukrainians in places like Kyiv, Kherson, and many others, which has shocked the world and Putin.

The World’s Response

            Russia’s invasion has garnered massive international support for Ukraine and has led to various ways of punishing Putin and Russia. The General Assembly United Nation’s vote of Resolution ES‑11/1, which condemns Russia’s invasion and calls for an immediate withdraw, saw overwhelming support for Ukraine with 141 vote yeas and only 5 nays and 35 abstentions. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as The European Union (EU) continues to send military armaments to Ukraine forces. The conflict has also seen unprecedented moves by Germany with its historic shift from its traditional policy of not sending arms into a conflict zone, by sending military aid to Ukraine, along with Sweden and Switzerland breaking their historic neutrality to send aid to Ukraine. While the U.S and allies have placed sanctions on Russia, Companies across the world have shown solidarity with Ukraine by censoring content, suspending of services in Russia, and discontinuing to sell Russian products. Ukraine has started to receive foreign volunteers for military service, which has been hailed by many Ukrainians especially Zelenskyy.

Putin’s Rationale

            As most of the focus has been on the conflict and the international support for Ukraine, Putin continues to justify his actions. Analysts have noted that much of Putin’s defense for Russia’s actions has be rooted in the long history of the region going as far back as 1462 with Ivan 3rd reign as Prince of Moscow. Russian scholars have noted that “Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia all trace their national identities to the medieval state of Russia.” Niall Ferguson, the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, notes Putin’s use of post-Soviet history by calling “Ukrainian independence an unsustainable historical anomaly” and seeing himself as the next Peter the Great. This view is problematic as Putin usurps historical reality with potential reality, thus proving Russia’s illegal incursion.

A New Policy

If the U.S. and its allies are serious about dealing with Russia’s aggressive behavior, it must engage in what I would call “the Dog Policy”. The Dog Policy is a three-part initiative that uses the same logic of how to deal with an aggressive dog and applies that logic to dealing with nations like Russia. The first part of the policy uses diplomacy. Just like one does with a dog, you show the back of your hand which tells the dog you are not a threat, and you wish to be friends, thus dealing with the situation without violence. The use of diplomacy is analogous to this situation as it allows us to provide an avenue for de-escalation of the conflict, while providing justification for any defensive measures if Putin continues to be belligerent. If the first part of this policy does not work, then the next part of the policy is to cage the dog, so it does harm anyone. Applying this practice to Russia means to cutting off aggressive countries with sanctions or embargoing. If the dog is not able to be rehabilitated or becomes an immediate threat to everyone, then the dog must be removed from power. Putin is a dog who covers his weakness with bellicoseness, and the free world must put Putin back in his place and restore peace, prosperity, and freedom to the region.


Hunter is a sophomore student studying political science and minoring in economics as well as national security. Raised in Liberty township, Ohio, Hunter developed an interest in politics through his passion for history, particularly America’s founding and military experiences. Hunter is the Secretary for the Young American’s Foundation Chapter at Grove City College. Hunter is a staff writer for Cogitare Magazine and contributor for the Grove City College Collegian Newspaper. Hunter is a member of the Grove City Debate Team. He is interested in the fields of international affairs, national security, and economics.

This Past Summer, Hunter Oswald graduated from the Heritage Foundation Academy Program, where he studied numerous public policy issues and America’s foundational principles. He aspires to further use his research and analytical skills in helping to inform the public on policy issues that promote and advance America’s principles.