At the time of writing, there has for several days been a hectic communication between several heads of state to find a diplomatic solution to the extremely tense situation between Ukraine and Russia. Russia has deployed about 130,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and a military exercise is being conducted along with Belarus on Belarus' territory. Belarus, like Russia, borders Ukraine and fully supports Putin.

Ukraine would like to be a member of NATO, but the current situation traces all the way back to Stalin's time, World War II and 2014. The Ukrainian desire for NATO membership is Russia steeled against and may at all costs prevent this from happening. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, several of the former Eastern bloc countries have joined NATO, and Russia is increasingly feeling squeezed by NATO and Western values.

And suddenly the seriousness has risen for the West. Is Putin considering invading Ukraine? The situation has sent tremors through Sweden and Finland and throughout the Western world. Mysterious (military) drones fly over nuclear power plants in Sweden and over Stockholm. The Swedes send soldiers to Gotland. Denmark is preparing to send two F-16 aircrafts to island Bornholm. Britain will send weapons to Ukraine. The United States is doing the same.

The West threatens not to open the new gas pipeline from Russia, Nord Stream 2. Germany has become quite dependent on Russian gas and has been very sparing in supporting this sanction option. The yoke of history also rests on Germany's shoulders as up to 30 million people lost their lives on the Eastern Front during World War II.

All the while, Putin has repeatedly stated that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine.

The West threatens quite severe sanctions if Putin were to invade Ukraine. But as the Russian ambassador to Sweden Viktor Tatarintsev stated in an interview with the Swedish Aftonbladet.

"Excuse my language, but we don't give a shit about all their sanctions.

... We have already had many sanctions, and in a way, it has had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture.”

On President Putin's official website, on July 12, 2021, he posted a rather long and in-depth article: "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians". This article is interesting reading and has been quoted by several news media. It provides an insight into some of Putin's thoughts on historical background. Here are a few quotes:

"During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people - a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe.”

... I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people."

Putin ends with these words:

"And I will say one thing - Russia has never been and will never be" anti-Ukraine ". And what Ukraine will be - it is up to its citizens to decide."

On January 23 this year, the Atlantic Council published an article "Disarming Putin's history weapon", which critically reviews Putin's article. They write:

"Ever since 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin has weaponized history as part of his hybrid war against Ukraine. On numerous occasions, most infamously in his July 2021 essay" On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians, "Putin has used highly selective interpretations of the past to undermine Ukrainian national identity and legitimize his own expansionist imperial ambitions. "

In recent news, it has been reported time and time again that we do not know Putin's thoughts and plans. So, it's tempting to see what the cards might tell us.

The question is: "Show Putin's thoughts on the Ukrainian situation":

 The spread is a snapshot of Putin's thoughts on the Ukrainian situation.

The spread is read as a "U" in this order: jack of hearts, 3 of spades, 10 of spades and queen of spades. The first thing that catches your eye are the many spades and the absence of clubs and diamonds. It already tells of strong (nationalist) feelings, but also of Putin keeping his thoughts, plans and decisions secret. One might be tempted to say that with so many spades on the table, he is devising a psychological battle of exhaustion.

The Jack of hearts shows two different layers of interpretation. As the first card, it represents Ukraine. Ukraine has an almost religious national significance for Putin and is, in his view, part of the Russian people's soul. Blood ties flow between Ukraine and Russia. But he also perceives the Ukrainian leadership of the country as naive, unrealistic, and dangerous for Russia (jack of hearts pinched between many spades). A situation he wants to change. Putin wants to control (queen of spades) Ukraine. The other side of the jack of hearts shows that Putin is "playing" with the West. He is trying to put a wedge (3 of spades) in and destabilize NATO and the West. Putin has full control (queen of spades) over what he does. The 3 of spades is an attack card, but with so many even numbers: 10, 12 and 6, it is likely that his thoughts are more on scaring Ukraine, the West and NATO and provoking an extreme situation than launching an invasion. The 10 of spades is a gloomy card that is not afraid to go to extremes. The 10 of spades is a demonstration of power. Putin will go all the way to the extreme "border" if necessary. He has thought through all sorts of scenarios.

The 10 of spades also symbolizes NATO. Some readers might be wondering how the 10 of spades can represent NATO? But is NATO a peace movement? No - it's a military organization.
Putin is particularly concerned about NATO's impact on stability in Russia and Putin's position of power should Ukraine join NATO.

There is no doubt that Putin fears NATO's influence more than individual Western powers. The 10 of spades is a powerful card, but the cunning queen of spades finishes the spread. So, in a way, Putin controls NATO's steps. He is in a way constantly one step ahead. For Putin, it is very much a psychological game.

The bottom card in the stack of cards is another spade - namely the 6 of spades. He tries to push NATO and the West out on a path where they cannot turn around. Perhaps his idea is to prepare for a future scenario where NATO and the West are in a place where he wants them to be? When that’s I done, he can incorporate the two eastern Russian-dominated Ukrainian provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. Only Putin himself knows the answer.

Written, February 13th 2022

Shown cards: Altenburger Spielkarten, Königin, 1970