Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 24 February 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Putin Goes All In: Invasion Of Ukraine
The Russian president could have stopped at recognizing the so-called people’s republics in occupied Donbas, saving his face and leaving the current crisis behind him. However, all indications are that the war with Ukraine was already planned last fall. Russia’s absurd demands to NATO and the US were only an excuse to strike Ukraine.
Such a large-scale attack on Ukraine indicates that Vladimir Putin decided that it is not worthwhile to follow a strategy of small steps, for instance, to only recognize the so-called people’s republics in Donbas. Time is counting against Putin. Firstly, recent years have seen the strengthening of the pro-Western forces in Ukraine. Secondly, Putin is getting older and sicker. Meanwhile, he still has not achieved one of his most important goals – the re-subordination of Ukraine to Moscow. The Kremlin decided that there is no point in trying to make Kyiv implement the so-called Minsk agreements. Over the past years, Ukraine has been able to resist pressure not only from Moscow but also from the West in this matter. Putin came to a conclusion that negotiations with Kiev are pointless, that he could only press Ukraine to make concessions by using brute force. Hence the full-scale operation, and, after several hours of shelling and land battles in several locations, the Kremlin’s gracious declaration that it can now talk to Kyiv about Ukraine’s neutrality status, abandonment of military cooperation with the West, and aspirations for NATO membership. The potential discussion points included even the relinquishment of independence by the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was gained a few years ago, and giving it back to the Patriarch of Moscow. Such far-reaching military operation might result in a bloody and lengthy armed conflict. Certainly, the Kremlin does not intend to stop after capturing Donbas. It is about subjugating the whole country, hence the air and missile attacks. The aim is to weaken Ukraine’s military potential (hence the attacks on military bases, even those located in the west of the country), its anti-aircraft defense (to allow airborne landings in key locations, if needed), paralyze the infrastructure, as well as intimidate the population and the ruling elite. However, the first hours after the attack do not indicate that this has been achieved. Therefore, Putin will seek to terrorize Ukraine.
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