What does Russia want? Has Putin's war been a failure

On October 1, 2022, in Sviatohirsk, a Ukrainian soldier examines a Russian tank that had been destroyed close to t...

On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin mistakenly believed he could march into Kyiv, the country's capital, and overthrow the government with up to 200,000 soldiers.

His initial invasion strategy has undoubtedly failed after a string of humiliating retreats, but the war for Russia is still very much alive.

The largest invasion of Europe since the end of World War Two is still referred to as a "special military operation" by the leader of Russia. not the full-scale war that has bombed civilians all over Ukraine and forced more than 13 million people to flee to other countries or move within their own nation.

Days after endorsing independence for eastern Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian proxy forces since 2014, he declared on February 24, 2022, that his goal was to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine and not to occupy it by force.

A Russian propaganda claim that has no basis in reality, he vowed to defend the populace from the eight years of Ukrainian bullying and genocide. He mentioned preventing Nato from establishing a presence in Ukraine and then added the goal of maintaining Ukraine's neutrality.

The overthrow of the elected president of Ukraine was a top priority for President Putin, though he never said it aloud. Volodymyr Zelensky declared, "I am the enemy's number one target, and my family is his number two target. His adviser claimed that Russian troops made two tries to storm the presidential compound.

Russian state-run news agency Ria Novosti explained that "denazification is inevitably also de-Ukrainization" — in other words, erasing the contemporary state of Ukraine — despite the fact that their allegations that Ukrainian Nazis had committed genocide never added up.

Since the late 9th century, the Russian president has consistently denied Ukraine's independence, claiming in a lengthy essay from 2021 that "Russians and Ukrainians were one people.".

His campaign objectives were drastically reduced after a retreat from after a month of the invasion. Kyiv . and . Chernihiv. The main objective changed to be. Donbas' liberation. ", which broadly refers to the eastern industrial hubs of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine.

forced to make additional retreats from. Kharkiv. both in the northeast and. Kherson. Russia's objectives in the south are still the same, but it has had little success in doing so.

With no complete control over any of the four provinces—Luhansk or Donetsk in the east, Kherson or Zaporizhzhia in the south—Russia's president was forced by these battlefield setbacks to annex four Ukrainian provinces last September.

Vladimir Putin speaks to crowds in Moscow, with the words andquot;Together forever" at the top of the screen.
Together forever is written at the top of the screen as Vladimir Putin celebrated the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Despite being limited to about 300,000 reservists, President Putin was compelled to order Russia's first mobilization since World War Two.

Russian victories are small and infrequent as a war of attrition is currently raging along an active front line of 850 km (530 miles). Originally intended to be a quick operation, it has turned into a protracted conflict that Western leaders are determined Ukraine should prevail in. Any chance of neutrality for Ukraine being a reality has long since vanished.

While stating that the war "could be a lengthy process" in December, President Putin later clarified that Russia's intention was to put an end to the conflict rather than "spin the flywheel of military conflict.".

The biggest accomplishment that President Putin can take pride in is building a land bridge from Russia's border to Crimea, which was illegally annexed in 2014 and is no longer dependent on its bridge over the Kerch Strait.

As a "significant result for Russia," he has described the conquest of this region, which includes the cities of Mariupol and Melitopol. Even Russian Tsar Peter the Great did not succeed in making the Sea of Azov inside the Kerch Strait "Russia's internal sea," he proclaimed.

A year in maps

Beyond seizing a passageway to Crimea, Russia's bloody, unprovoked war has been disastrous for both itself and the nation it was let loose on. Little more than exposing the brutality and inadequacy of the Russian military has so far been accomplished.

While cities like Mariupol were destroyed, information about war crimes committed against civilians in Bucha, close to Kiev, has emerged. This has led to an independent report that accuses Russia of orchestrating a state-sponsored incitement to genocide. However, military setbacks have revealed Russia to be at its most vulnerable.

  • 30,000 Russian troops crossed the Dnipro river in retreat. Kherson. A tactical blunder occurred in November.
  • A 64 km (40 mi) long armored convoy stopped nearby. Kyiv . A logistical failure occurred at the start of the conflict.
  • the massacre of numerous recently mobilized soldiers during a Ukrainian new year's missile attack on. Makiivka. were a mistake in intelligence.
  • the capitulation of the flagship Black Sea battleship. Moskva. a spectacular attack in October 2022 that closed the was also a defensive failure. crossing the Kerch Strait. a few weeks.

Despite promises of support for "as long as it takes," the West has ignored Russia's warnings against arming Ukraine.

Superior Himars missiles and the promise of German Leopard 2 tanks strengthened the artillery of Ukraine.

But the war has not ended. The conflict over Donbas is ongoing. In an effort to reclaim the territory it lost in the fall, Russia has already taken the town of Soledar this year and anticipates taking the eastern city of Bakhmut on the way to important western cities.

Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut
Despite fierce Russian attacks, Ukrainian troops are resolutely maintaining control of Bakhmut.

Putin watchers predict that the Russian leader will attempt to expand his authority over the four regions that he has proclaimed to be a part of Russia, not just in Donbas but also towards the crucial city of Zaporizhzhia.

President Putin could extend mobilization if necessary and prolong the conflict. Russia is a nuclear power, and he has stated he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia and hold onto the territory it has occupied in Ukraine. "We will undoubtedly use all of the weaponry at our disposal. He cautioned, "This is no bluff.

Russia, whose troops are stationed in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria, which borders Ukraine, is believed by Kyiv to be attempting to topple the pro-European government there as well.

The 70-year-old President Putin has made an effort to distance himself from military missteps, but his standing has been severely diminished, at least outside of Russia, and he rarely travels abroad.

Although its budget deficit has increased and its oil and gas revenue has sharply decreased, Russia's economy at home appears to have withstood a number of Western sanctions on the surface.

It would be challenging to estimate his popularity.

Since spreading "fake news" about the Russian military can result in jail time, dissent is extremely dangerous in Russia. Those who disagreed with the government of Russia either left or were imprisoned, as was the case with Alexei Navalny, the leader of the opposition.

The beginnings of this conflict were laid in 2013, when Moscow convinced the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine to renege on a deal with the European Union. This sparked protests that eventually brought him down and resulted in Russia annexing Crimea and staging a land grab in the east.

The EU granted Ukraine candidate status, and Kyiv is working to be accepted as soon as it can, four months into Russia's invasion of 2022.

However, his attempt to pin the war on the Western defensive alliance is untrue. Russia's longtime leader was also desperate to keep Ukraine out of Nato's orbit.

In March, President Zelensky offered to keep Ukraine as a non-aligned, non-nuclear state: "It's a truth and it must be recognized. Ukraine reportedly agreed before the war to a provisional deal with Russia to stay out of Nato. ".

Along with missile defense systems, artillery, and drones that helped turn the tide against Russia's invasion, NATO member states have increasingly sent Ukraine air defense systems to defend its cities.

The war, however, was not caused by it. Sweden and Finland only applied to join because of the invasion; Nato's expansion is a response to the Russian threat.

Map showing Nato expansion in Europe

The Russian narrative has gained some traction in Europe and blames Nato's eastward expansion. Prior to the conflict, President Putin demanded that NATO go back to 1997 and withdraw its forces and military infrastructure from the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Central Europe.

He believed that even though the West had pledged in 1990 that Nato would not expand "not an inch to the east," it had nonetheless done so. However, since that was before the fall of the Soviet Union, the promise made to Mikhail Gorbachev, then the president of the Soviet Union, only mentioned East Germany in the context of a reunited Germany.

The topic of NATO expansion was never discussed at the time, Mr. Gorbachev claimed later.

Until 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea, NATO claims it never intended to station combat troops on its eastern flank.

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