What’s Russia’s Game Plan?

A map showing the advancement of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

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A map showing the advancement of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Aneri Shethji, Staff Writer

When Vladimir Putin disrupted Europe’s peace by declaring war on a 44-million-strong democracy, he justified his actions by claiming that modern, Western-leaning Ukraine was a perpetual threat to Russia’s ability to “feel comfortable, grow, and exist.”

However, after weeks of bombing, hundreds of casualties, and millions of refugees fleeing the country, the question still stands: what is his ultimate goal, and how do we escape global conflict?

The objectives Putin set forth at the outset of Russia’s invasion appear to have been watered down during the course of a conflict he expected to be won quickly. He would rather pretend it was a “special military operation” than accept it was an invasion or a war. But it’s evident that Putin considers this a watershed point in Russian history. “Russia’s future and role in the world are on the line,” says Sergei Naryshkin, Russia’s foreign intelligence head. 

Putin’s first goal was to invade Ukraine and remove its government, thereby putting a stop to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO’s defense alliance. He informed the Russian people that his objective was to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine” in order to defend those who had been subjected to what he termed Ukraine’s government’s “eight years of bullying and genocide.” “We have no intention of occupying Ukrainian land. We have no intention of forcibly imposing anything on anyone”. 

However, there were no Nazis or genocide, and Russia used terrible force to occupy dozens of towns and cities, uniting Ukrainians against its occupation. The bombing continues, but recent reports from peace negotiations imply that Russia is no longer attempting to oust the government and is instead pursuing a neutral Ukraine.

Because Russian soldiers are locked in their present locations, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak believes a ceasefire might begin in the coming days. Both parties have expressed optimism about the discussions, and Mr. Podolyak claims that Russia’s president has lowered his demands. 

Putin wanted Ukraine to recognize Crimea as part of Russia and the separatist-run east as independent at the outset of the war. Ukraine’s constitution would have to be changed to ensure that it would not join Nato or the EU. The future status of Crimea is still up in the air, but it may not be a problem if the two parties agree to handle it later.

Russia’s economy was targeted in a number of ways by the EU, US, UK, and Canada. The assets of Russia’s central bank have been frozen, and major banks have been cut off from the worldwide SWIFT payment network. The United States has imposed a restriction on Russian oil and gas imports. Within a year, the EU hopes to reduce gas imports by two-thirds, while the UK hopes to phase out Russian oil by the end of 2022. 

Russian airlines have been restricted from flying over the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and a number of other people have been sanctioned.