Putin Failed To Achieve His Three Goals In Ukraine – OpEd

Paul Goble

Moscow’s open movement of forces toward the Ukrainian border this spring was intended to achieve three goals, but because it was never intended as the beginning of a thrust that would lead to a major war between Russia and the West, Vladimir Putin failed to achieve any of his three goals regarding Ukraine this time around, Jerzy Targalski says.  

In 2014, Putin used stealth to advance Russian forces toward and into Ukrainian territory; but this time, the Polish defense analyst says, he flaunted what he was doing in the expectation that such a display of force would be sufficient to achieve his goals. It wasn’t and he didn’t (polskieradio.pl/397/7836/Artykul/2725777,Политолог-об-эскалации-ситуации-на-границе-с-Украиной-Путин-проиграл-на-всех-фронтах).

First of all, Putin wanted to use his actions as a test of the new US president and to find out whether Joe Biden would support Ukraine or cave. Washington didn’t cave. In fact, Biden’s proposal for a meeting with Putin, while the Kremlin leader may have welcomed it at one level, worked very much against Russia’s plans.

It significantly strengthened the position of Ukraine, Targalski says, because it meant that talks about Ukraine were going to involve the US and the UK facing off against Russia rather than France and Germany who would likely be more willing to compromise with whatever Moscow wants.

Second, Putin wanted to force Kyiv to agree to the Steinmeyer plan for elections in the Donbass. Such elections, in which Russian citizens would vote and the OSCE would supervise, would in Putin’s plan lead to the reincorporation of the Donbass into Ukraine but as an entity more loyal to and controlled by Moscow.

That would have weakened Ukraine beyond recognition. And because his bluff didn’t work and the Americans didn’t back down, Kyiv continues to refuse to consider such an arrangement, a second defeat for the Kremlin in this round, the Polish security and defense analyst continues.

And third, Putin had as his goal the sowing of fear and panic among Ukrainians in the hope that they would force Kyiv to accept Moscow’s conditions in order to avoid a major war. But buoyed by Western support, the Ukrainians organized to resist so that Putin and his associates would know that any invasion would cost him dearly.

“I consider,” Tagalski says, “that Putin lost on all three fronts.” Had Putin been prepared for a major war, he might have been willing to pay such a price. But it is clear that he “does not intend to set off a full-scale war now.” Hence when his bluff failed, he pulled back, yet another defeat but not one he planned for.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at paul.goble@gmail.com .

(c) eurasiareview.com


  • “Hence when his bluff failed, he pulled back, yet another defeat but not one he planned for.”

    Add to his attempt to rebuild Neverossyia, annex Crimea with no water, Putin is no chess master, but just an empty vessel that makes a lot of noise. His attempts to drag China into any conflict Putin starts with the West, is another huge fail. If Putin had any sense, which is doubtful, he should be looking to strengthen his Eastern border, not the Western one. The mythical threat is not coming from NATO, but a real one in from a country that is surrounding you a lot more than the West.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Exactly. The only thing the little runt is good at is bluffing. He can fool his own people because they’re used to BS but the rest of the world with a spine is not buying it. To your point about China I think China is perfectly fine letting Putin bang his pots all over the world while XI silently rapes poor countries, stays out of the news, steals technology, harvest viruses, signs contracts and continue to produce junk.

      Liked by 3 people

  • The writer is being over-optimistic here. Just because putler’s cost-benefit analysis caused another possible invasion to be deferred at least for now, it does not mean that the rodent has cancelled his plans indefinitely. He wants to restore Ukraine as a toothless Russia lackey and he is prepared to do almost anything to achieve this.
    Ukraine will be safe only when its armed forces:
    1/ have twice the personnel and firepower that they have now
    2/ have a modern air force
    3/ have a cutting edge SAM system
    4/ have many installations of Patriot missiles
    5/ have many thousands instead of the hundreds they have now, of Javelins.

    Or of course, a vast, permanent joint US/UK military base. If the Budapest signatories are not prepared to invest in such an enterprise, then they should fund nos 1-5 above. The money should be recovered by forcing putlerstan to pay full reparations. Also, the krauts have still paid nothing to Ukraine for the up to 10 million Ukrainian citizens they murdered in ww2.

    Liked by 3 people

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