Making the news rounds makes you go hmmm? Why can’t the media see what I see? I’m talking about Ukraine of course. Here’s a headline from The Independent.

Ukraine crisis: Moscow catches the world off guard

Off-guard? The world didn’t see it coming? Well, as Steve at MCT points out, Sarah Palin did years ago.

There are countless examples of the ‘experts’ voicing their opinion as to how this will play out. Here’s one claiming Russia will never invade.

As they say, don’t over think things. And make sure you look at the big picture. Those who think Russia is bluffing and go to great extent to provide historical references to support their contention. Which is mainly that this is all about Ukraine and the revolution. That it’s because Ukraine is the cradle of the Russian population. That it’s about keeping Ukraine from lurching more to the west. That it’s about Gazprom selling gas to Ukraine.

You’re not looking big enough. Putin is looking at this from a macro perspective, not just another regional conflict such as Georgia from 2008.

The superpowers of the world all have the same basic tenets in their national defense policy. It combines many factors, primarily foreign policy and economics. They are the biggest vulnerabilities a superpower country faces externally. An invasion of the homeland is only a remote possibility.

Input for a national geo-political strategy comes from many sources beyond the staff and think-tanks. However, the main tact utilized is to be opportunistic. You must combine as many bullet points from your war board as possible when making decisions. Obviously, some are weighted more heavily than others. It’s why the simulators have already run through as many possible scenarios as possible ahead of time in order to pre-plan. Simply put, Russia saw this coming years ago and has already planned a response. Sarah Palin gets kudos for reading the tea leaves, but rest assured she didn’t see it before anyone else.

So the obvious drawbacks to a Ukraine pro-EU stance are more than just symbolic for Russia. It also isn’t just introducing more competition to a gas customer. Take a look at this chart from GeoCommons illustrating the oil and gas pipelines that don’t just travel from Russia to Ukraine, but beyond to Europe.

In particular, take notice of Poland. You’ll note that the pipeline isn’t complete through to Europe. In fact, the only one that goes through travels through where? Bingo! Ukraine. There is much more than just a single gas customer at stake here. Of course it’s also about the Russian warm water port and their Black Sea fleet at stake but that’s more than obvious.

It is these types of issues that play into the macro picture of geo-politics. All these factors weigh into decisions. So when the ‘experts’ have it all figured out, they like to look at things in a box. National defense by itself. History by itself. Economics by itself.

That’s why they’re pundits and not part of the national security team. Bottom line is you can bet the farm that Russia will invade Ukraine in a heartbeat if it fits their national objectives. They know full well any bluster from Obama or John Kerry are empty words. You can bet that Russia sees a Ukraine shift to the west as a direct threat to their national security. They will respond accordingly.