What does Russia really want?

As the invasion that began on Thursday night continues and intensifies, it is clear that Putin will not give up on keeping the tension high, with cyber attacks and provocations

BERLIN – How far will the Russian troops who are occupying Ukraine piece by piece go? What does Vladimir Putin want? What is there at the end of the night inaugurated by the Russian president, unleashing his war machine?

The goal – said al Courier service
Dmitry Suslov, one of the Kremlin’s foreign policy advisers – a regime change in Kiev, no more and no less. We are living through the last hours of Ukraine as we have known it in these 30 years.

Long live the clarity. But what does this actually mean? And above all, how does military action precipitate the political solution?

Meanwhile, there is the question of Kiev, the capital that must absolutely be conquered if the goal is regime change. Putin urged the Ukrainian army to take power, removing President Zelensky and the ruling gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis. The Russian generals probably do not want to carry out a massive frontal assault, too destructive and costly even for their men, but rather using the speznatsthe special teams, plus one combination of missiles against targeted targets and cyber attacks capable of knocking out the entire government structure.

But the conquest of the capital will raise the question of the fate of Zelenski
, the Ukrainian president determined to resist and who is unlikely to accept getting on a plane to a safe destination, as Viktor Janukovic did in 2014, kicked out by the Euromaidan revolt. Killing him would make him a martyr, but it is not excluded that this would happen if he resisted. He could be captured and forcibly deported.

Setting up a puppet government in Kiev would be for only the first step. Which territory would it control? How would he impose his law? Much will depend on the strategic choices of the Russian commands and ultimately on Putin’s will. They may decide not to occupy the whole of Ukraine, twice the size of Germany, as Suslov implies in the interview: The Russian army wants to take control of the whole territory or most of it. Suslov adds that he does not rule out strong resistance in some parts of the country, the more nationalist ones in the West, hostile territories where Russian troops will probably not push. In those areas, in fact, as Guido Olimpio writes, it is probable that local forces have created weapons depots and shelters. In addition, some of their units have been trained by a CIA program that began in 2015 after the annexation of Crimea.

If this were the scenario, then we would go to a partition of the country: a puppet state established in Kiev and with control of much of the current territory of Ukraine, plus a rebel area, a Donbass model with reversed parts in the west of the country. Yes, but for how long should Russia and could it maintain the occupation regime in such an exterminated country? As in Afghanistan or Syria, the problem would arise of the autonomous combat capabilities (and not least of the loyalty) of the Ukrainian forces that will be loyal to the new pro-Russian government in Kiev.

In any case, as Suslov says, the Ukraine that emerged from the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR would no longer exist. And this would permanently change the geopolitical map of Europe. A new Intermarium, a dividing line from sea to sea, would descend from the Baltic to the Black Sea: We will be in an all-out confrontation, the clash will be strong, we will call ourselves enemies again, Suslov anticipates.

Will Vladimir Putin stop? Will it be enough for him to pay the price of a new division of Europe to reunify Russkij Mir, the Russian World, the mission in which he invested himself? Or will it continue to cultivate expansionist aims also on the former Warsaw Pact countries, such as Poland and the Baltics?

Appearances and signs say no. They say Putin’s strategic design stops at reunification of the three Slavic nations, with perhaps a thought to Moldova. What is certain is that on the new dividing line, the Kremlin leader will not give up on keeping the tension high, with cyber attacks and provocations. The West would do well to answer on his part.

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