On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin made the mistaken assumption that he could march into Kyiv, the country's capital, in a matter of days and overthrow the government.
His initial invasion plan has obviously failed after a string of embarrassing retreats, but Russia's war is still very much alive.
Russia's president continues to refer to the largest invasion of Europe since the end of World War Two as a "special military operation.". not the all-out conflict that has bombed civilians throughout Ukraine and forced more than 13 million people to flee their homes and move elsewhere.
His stated objective on February 24, 2022, days after endorsing independence for the eastern Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian proxy forces since 2014, was to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine rather than occupy it by force.
He vowed to shield the populace from the eight years of Ukrainian oppression and genocide, a claim made by Russian propaganda that has no basis in reality. He mentioned preventing Nato from setting up shop in Ukraine before adding the goal of maintaining Ukraine's neutrality.
Although President Putin never said it aloud, overthrowing the elected president of Ukraine's government was a top priority. Volodymyr Zelensky declared, "I am target number one for the enemy; my family is target number two.". According to his adviser, Russian troops made two attempts 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 Russian claims that Ukrainian Nazis were committing genocide.
The Russian president has consistently denied Ukraine's independence, claiming in a lengthy essay from 2021 that "Russians and Ukrainians were one people" since the late 9th century.
After a retreat from a month into the invasion, his campaign objectives were significantly scaled back. Kyiv . and . Chernihiv. The " became the main objective. release of Donbas. ", which generally refers to the two industrial hubs of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
further retreats from being forced. Kharkiv. and in the northeast. Kherson. Russia's objectives in the south are unchanging, but it has had little luck in carrying them out.
These tactical setbacks forced the leader of Russia to annex four provinces of Ukraine last September, without having complete control over any of them: neither Luhansk nor Donetsk in the east, nor Kherson or Zaporizhzhia in the south.
Putin was compelled to order Russia's first mobilization since World War Two, though it was only a small one, involving only about 300,000 reservists.
Russian victories are small and infrequent as a war of attrition now rages along the 850 km (530 miles) active front line. What was supposed to be a brief operation has turned into a protracted conflict that Western leaders believe Ukraine should prevail in. Any chance of Ukraine remaining neutral has long since vanished.
President Putin stated in December that the war "could be a lengthy process," but later clarified that Russia's aim was to put an end to it rather than "spin the flywheel of military conflict.".
The biggest accomplishment President Putin can point to is building a land bridge from Russia's border to Crimea, which was illegally annexed in 2014. This allowed Crimea to stop depending on its bridge across the Kerch Strait.
The cities of Mariupol and Melitopol were part of this territory that was captured, and he described it as a "significant result for Russia.". He proclaimed that the Sea of Azov, which is located inside the Kerch Strait, "has become Russia's internal sea," pointing out that even Russian Tsar Peter the Great was unable to accomplish that.
Beyond securing a passageway to Crimea, Russia's heinous, uncalled-for war has been a catastrophe for both that nation and itself. Its main accomplishment to date has been to highlight the brutality and inadequacy of the Russian military.
While towns like Mariupol were destroyed, information about war crimes committed against civilians in Bucha, close to Kiev, led to an independent report accusing Russia of orchestrating a genocide. However, Russia's military setbacks have exposed its vulnerability:
- the crossing of the Dnipro River by 30,000 Russian troops. Kherson. An operational failure occurred in November.
- a 64 km (40 mi) long armored convoy that came to a stop close. Kyiv . There was a logistical mishap at the beginning of the war.
- large numbers of recently mobilized soldiers were killed in a Ukrainian new year's missile attack on. Makiivka. were a failure of intelligence.
- the capitulation of the battle cruiser's flagship in the Black Sea. Moskva. was a defensive failure, just like the spectacular attack that shut down the in October 2022. bridge over Kerch Strait. many weeks.
Despite promises of support from the West for "as long as it takes," Russia's warnings to the West to refrain from arming Ukraine have gone unheeded.
Superior Himars missiles and the possibility of German Leopard 2 tanks gave Ukraine's artillery a boost.
However, the war has not ended. The battle for Donbas carries on. Russia hopes to retake territory it lost last autumn by capturing the eastern city of Bakhmut on its way to important western cities. This year, Russia has already taken the town of Soledar.
Putin watchers predict that he will work to expand Russian control over the four regions he has proclaimed to be a part of the country, not just in Donbas but also in the direction of the important city of Zaporizhzhia.
President Putin could prolong mobilization and prolong the war if necessary. He has stated that he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia and hold onto the territory that has been annexed by Ukraine if necessary. "We will undoubtedly use every weapon system at our disposal. He said, "This is not a bluff.
Considering that Russian troops are stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria, which borders Ukraine, Kiev believes Russia is also attempting to topple the pro-European government in Moldova.
Despite his efforts to distance himself from military missteps, President Putin, 70, has little influence outside of Russia and rarely travels abroad.
On the surface, Russia's economy at home seems to have survived a series of Western sanctions, despite the fact that its budget deficit has increased and its oil and gas revenue has sharply decreased.
It is difficult to determine his popularity, no matter how hard you try.
In Russia, dissent is extremely dangerous because those who spread "fake news" about the Russian military face jail time. Those who disagreed with the government of Russia have either left or have been imprisoned, like the leader of the opposition, Alexei Navalny.
The seeds of this conflict were planted in 2013, when Moscow convinced the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine to abandon a planned agreement with the EU. This sparked protests that eventually toppled the leader and paved the way for Russia to annexe Crimea and stage a land grab in the east.
The EU granted Ukraine candidate status four months into Russia's invasion of 2022, and Kyiv is working to be accepted as soon as possible.
The former president of Russia was also desperate to keep Ukraine out of NATO, but his claim that the Western defensive alliance was to blame for the conflict is untrue.
In addition to purportedly reaching a temporary agreement with Russia before the war to stay outside of Nato, President Zelensky offered in March to keep Ukraine as a non-aligned, non-nuclear state: "It's a truth and it must be recognized. ".
NATO members have increasingly sent air defense systems, missile defense systems, artillery, and drones to Ukraine to defend its cities and stem the tide of the Russian invasion.
However, it is not at fault for the war. The expansion of NATO is a response to the Russian threat; Finland and Sweden only applied for membership as a result of the invasion.
A Russian narrative that has gained some traction in Europe is that Nato's eastward expansion is to blame. Prior to the conflict, President Putin urged NATO to go back to 1997 and withdraw its military infrastructure and forces from the Baltics, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe.
In his view, the West broke its 1990 promise that Nato would not expand "not an inch to the east" by actually doing so. But since the Soviet Union had not yet collapsed, the promise made to Mikhail Gorbachev, then the president of the Soviet Union, only applied to East Germany in the context of a united Germany.
Later, Mr. Gorbachev claimed that "the subject of Nato expansion was never discussed.".
Before Russia's illegitimate annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO claims it never intended to station combat troops on its eastern flank.