What is Putin's military and political goal in the Ukraine

Does he want to annex the eastern half and split the nation, does he want to conquer the nation and install the old president, what exactly does he want to do there?

My understanding is the Crimea region welcomed the Russians. I’m assuming the eastern half would as well, but the western half of the nation would put up a huge fight.

It seems like establishing a puppet government over the whole nation would be a huge boondoggle like the USSR invasion of Afghanistan. Plus it is safe to say the EU & US would fund insurgent movements in the Ukraine if Russia did that. Then again, if the US & EU establish a government run by the western half of the nation and it descends into civil war the eastern insurgents would have the support of Russia.

Does anyone have any idea what the Russian goal is there?


pretty much what I think.

The only question that comes up is what it’s going to cost Putin. I think it won’t cost him almost anything. Too much money involved to embargo or cut trade. I am sure noises will be made, but actions will be very few and ineffectual.

I assume he wants Crimea to be autonomous enough to enter into an everlasting treaty with Russia essentially granting them the Black Sea Fleet region, with Ukraine having no say in the matter.

He’s threatening the whole of Ukraine, but he’ll let himself be negotiated down to mostly just Crimea and whoever else wants to jump ship.

Putin isn’t going to say what his goal is. That way he can take as much as he thinks he can get away with and declare afterwards he got everything he wanted and it was a complete victory.

(a) Let it be known 28 years ahead of time they are never giving up their Crimean bases, lease or no lease. This move clearly was planned in advance and most likely for years now, in view of the former lease-end date of 2017.
(b) Send the message to enclaved Russian or Russian-friendly populations throughout the former Union Republics that Moscow has their back. This is in order to make sure that…
© …All the former Union know that they are NOT really fully sovereign and autonomous in any major strategic decisionmaking, and that when the choice is to enter in economic or defense unions with the EU/NATO vs. with Russia/CIS you’d be wise at the very least to chose utter neutrality, and popular movement to the contrary will end up as a pyrrhic victory.
(This is also in a way another example of the pitfalls of trying to preserve the former colonial/imperial boundaries when recognizing independence of new states. You end up the former empire’s major military forces and a large loyalist population right in the middle of your new country)

They want Crimea, so they can keep their base. And it looks like they’ll get it. The West has absolutely zero interest in starting a war over this. We know it. Putin knows it. Putin knows we know it. And we know Putin knows we know it.

The Ukrainian military is way too small to have any hope of driving the Russians out by themselves, and again, everybody knows this.

Putin will succeed, unless some totally unexpected turn of events happens.

Why? Russia has a Black Sea coast of their own. That seems like a better place to park their Navy then leasing a base from a country with an unstable government.

Plus, even if it is really important for some reason, they have the place leased till 2042. Its not like loosing it was a really pressing problem. Putin will be dead and his body stuffed for public viewing in a mausoleum somewhere by the time the issue comes up again.

No doubt. But it’s not like war is the only option the West has for retaliation.

I don’t fully get it either, but Russia has publically stated that securing their Crimean base is a BFD for them, and if they conquer the Crimean & annex it, then it stops being a foreign base. That part isn’t so hard to understand.

We could impose economic sanctions, but Russia is the primary source of oil & gas for Europe, so Russia could very easily impose sanctions of their own that would bite much harder than anything we could do to them. It’s basically like trying to sanction Saudi Arabia. We’d hurt ourselves at least as badly as we’d hurt them.

In this case, the West is a total paper tiger. They’ll roar and thrash around, but it will all come to nothing. Putin will win.

I don’t think it would hurt us “more”, though it would hurt. Russia’s basically a petro-state at this point. Their entire economy is based around exports of hydrocarbons, and the EU is by far their largest market. Cutting off the EU would hurt the Europeans, but it would destroy Russia.

@Simplicio, @Diceman: The thing about the bases in Crimea is that they are the BEST deep seaports available in the area.

Also, that those bases already exist and are fully operational, and having to build up new ones in other points on the coast of the Black Sea would be expensive and likely wouldn’t provide as good a port as the one in Sevastopol.

Add to that the very central position of the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea and you will have a place that Russia will fight tooth and nail to keep under their control.

The funniest part of this mess (so to speak) is that Crimea became a part of Ukraine only in 1954, when the Government of the Soviet Union gave the Crimean Peninsula to the Ukrainian SSR. Previously it was part of… The Russian SSR :stuck_out_tongue:

I am sure that if Crimea had been Russian all this time, Russia would not have bothered intervening as they have.

More precisely, they want Crimea back. It became part of the Russian Empire in 1783 and wasn’t Ukrainian at any time until it was gifted to them in 1954.

Well, if the end result is the destruction of Russia, wouldn’t war be something Russia would consider before that were to happen?

I guess during the 19th century there were occasional wars to force countries to open their markets (the Opium Wars, for example). But I don’t think that really happens anymore. Wars between modern armies are so destructive, that if you won, the other country is probably going to be wrecked enough that it won’t be buying much of your stuff for a decade or more.

So no, I don’t think Russia would or could bomb NATO into buying its oil.

There’s insufficient evidence to draw a conclusion.

The new government declared Ukrainian the only official language. The Russian and Surzhyk -speaking part of the population, they aren’t happy. The Russian-speakers certainly don’t seem to mind Russia. As for putting up a fight, they’d just make a fuss. They’re weak, and the new government has already made itself horrendously unpopular. However they’ve also announced an intention to become a nuclear power again, so perhaps they are planning for a fight.

A western funded insurgency already overthrew the democratic government of the Ukraine, and replaced it with the nuke-happy, Russophobe fascist thugs currently running the country. What’s happening is a result of that.


Do you actually believe that the turmoil in Ukraine is the result of Western-funded fascists?


But of course. Nationalism is fascistic and corrupt… except when it’s Russian nationalism, then it’s noble and holy :rolleyes:

Another part of what Putin wants is to play the part to the Russian people in his story/image/mythology of a strong tough Russia. The Russian people view Ukraine as rightlfully part of Russia and view it as blindboyard does - a bunch of thugs overturning a democratically elected government that was turning to Russia and threatening ethnic Russians in the East. The minimum Putin could do was flex and have something to show for it. The Russian people are, overall, still a poor people, with low life expectency. Life expectency has moved up some and petrodollars have trickled down some but still. He is fighting against what was the people’s maliase of a former superpower in deline.

Humiliation was not an option. Much consequence would be endured to avoid that.

And will be. The consequences will be of some note. Europe actually has about as much (a 2011 Economist article) exploitable natural gas reserves (in shale) as the United States. They’ve been reluctant to exploit it, environmental concerns about fracking and all, and given affordable natural gas coming from Russia, well … But this may change that calculation.

This action by Russia makes the security of energy supply a very cogent issue. Expect to see some moves toward increased exploitation of this resource. Expect to see more LNG shipped from the U.S. Look for an acceleration of support for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to bring natural gas from the Caspian. Expect Norway to sell all they can produce.

Most of Europe now percieves Russia as a country that will bully its way as best it can rather than as a trading partner and will now do what it can to be able to do without them. This action has made most of the EU into nervous neighbors. Energy security will become more cogent in many political discourses than abstract fears of fracking. Russia runs on petrodollars. To the degree that this motivates its major customers to realize that they should have a more dverse supply including as much home produced as possible it will have severe lasting impact on her.

Russia is just doing what every regional hegemon does now and then- acting a bit nuts. Countries hang on to power by amassing a great deal of force, and occasionally showing it off in unpredictable acts of aggression.

The goal of these acts isn’t necessarily to win or achieve anything. You just want to make sure everyone in your neighborhood understands that you can strike wherever you like, for whatever crazy reason you like, and there’s not a damn thing that they can do about it.

Why? It keeps people divided about whether to suck up to you or rebel against you, which keeps them from uniting against you. And it helps keep the noise down from neighbors. The people you aren’t being crazy against will be thanking their lucky stars that they avoided your attention, and will make a concentrated effort not to make things difficult for you.

Sounds like U.S. foreign policy for the last thirty years. And it hasn’t always worked out so well for us, has it?

It is indeed our policy, and every other existing or aspiring superpowers’.