Home » Putin’s War in Ukraine Will Outlive His Presidency

Putin’s War in Ukraine Will Outlive His Presidency

by Darshan Fame
vladimir putin russia ukraine war

Vladimir Putin is waging a war in Ukraine that is far more ambitious than anything he has tried in foreign policy. It will outlive his presidency, and, were he to give up on it, it would be his last defeat.

He is driven by an unhealthy obsession with Ukraine and a twisted war aim that has deep roots in Russia’s history. Despite the war’s mounting human and economic costs, Russia is committed to a long-term victory that will keep it at the forefront of world affairs for years to come.

1. Putin’s twisted war aims

The war aims of Russian President Vladimir Putin are twisted.

For him, Ukraine represents a historical crisis that has become a proxy conflict with the West. He has used this situation to recast the Cold War as a new battle for a “Greater Russia.”

This strategy and these goals have deep roots in Russian history, with grim implications for Ukraine and Europe.

Putin’s obsession with Ukraine is a dangerous hobby that has destroyed thousands of lives and is wreaking havoc on the nation’s future.

The Russian media has spewed disinformation for years to dehumanize and demonize Ukrainians as Nazi monsters.

Those accusations have served as the justification for his invasion of Crimea and the ongoing military operation in eastern Ukraine.

But Putin’s latest war aims are even more twisted. He is attempting to invert a war of aggression against a neighbour into one of defence of a threatened “motherland.” That goal resonates with Russians, who are steeped in a nationalist narrative that’s been twisted by Putin for years.

2. Putin’s unhealthy obsession with Ukraine

When Russian protests toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, Putin made Ukraine his “red line.” He quickly annexed the strategic Crimea peninsula and sparked an international standoff.

The West imposed limited sanctions on Russia for its actions, but they were not enough to weaken Putin’s confidence. And the Ukrainian military quickly withdrew from Crimea, causing him to take the confident position that its future was in his hands.

In fact, Putin’s obsession with Ukraine has become an unhealthy one. It is a driving force behind many of his actions and policies.

It is a cause of concern for Western leaders, who fear that his increasingly isolated mind may slip into a parallel reality.

The war in Ukraine has been a remarkably personal crusade for the Russian leader, highlighting his desire to control former Soviet satellite states and reclaim an identity that he sees as vital to his nation’s security. His twisted war aims, his unhinged propaganda about denazification, and his threats to use nuclear weapons in a long-term fight are all signs of a president who is increasingly pushed to the edge.

3. Putin’s miscalculation

Russia’s military miscalculated several times in its unprovoked war against Ukraine. It underestimated the strength of Ukrainian forces and misread their will to resist.

The Kremlin’s decision to invade Crimea in 2014, for example, was based on incorrect assessments about the strength of local support.

As a result, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was a disaster for the Russian leader. He failed to lead with a substantial air campaign, underestimated the Ukrainians’ ability to fight and defend their homeland, and underestimated Western unity behind Ukraine.

He also underestimated the effectiveness of his army’s retaliation capabilities. After launching a ferocious attack on February 24, the Russians quickly faced logistical and operational problems.

In the end, however, Russia’s military simply hasn’t beaten Ukraine on the battlefield. Instead, its air campaign has deteriorated, and its ground force has suffered severe losses. Moreover, Russian forces have burned through their ammunition much faster than they could replace it. As a result, the war has become increasingly likely to end in a military stalemate.

4. Putin’s failure

Putin’s war in Ukraine was a complete failure. He has lost more than half of the territory he seized in February and now faces a series of humiliating retreats.

In the first months of the battle, Russian forces lost 15,000 soldiers to Ukrainian guerrillas, and more than half their armoured vehicles are out of commission. Russia’s military lacked the training, equipment, and supplies to effectively wage a large-scale conventional war.

But Putin was pursuing a broader strategy, one that has been consistent since his rise to power in 1999. That strategy has focused on two overarching goals: securing his political regime and protecting the Russian state from external threats.

These goals logically led to his pursuit of Ukraine. After all, it is a strategically important part of Russia’s borders, and it has warm-water ports, fertile agricultural lands, and vast mineral resources.

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