1674403879 Ukraine How Vladimir Putin missed his bet

Ukraine: How Vladimir Putin missed his bet

Russian President Vladimir Putin via video conference from his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo near Moscow, November 22, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin via video conference from his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo near Moscow, November 22, 2022. MIKHAIL METZEL / AFP

On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin launched his “military special operation” in Ukraine with the stated goal of “defending the people of Donbass who are at risk of the Kiev regime’s genocide.” After a year of high-intensity fighting, the results are disastrous: Moscow does not even control all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. His strengths are also there in hindsight.

The denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, other stated goals of this military intervention? The Ukrainian army is one of the strongest in Europe today. In Der Spiegel, the Russian army’s reputation suffered a severe blow that was not enough to erase the permanent recall of its nuclear capacity. The failure of the Russian blitzkrieg is not only the result of the army’s lack of preparation. It also reveals Mr Putin’s blindness and the ideology and information bubble in which the Russian President has locked himself. Contrary to what he had hoped, the Ukrainian population did not greet Russian tanks with flowers, and the country’s institutions did not crumble like a house of cards.

This article is from “Bilan du Monde”, 2023. This special edition is available in kiosks or online on our shop’s website.

Finally stop the expansion of NATO, the last claimed goal? The Atlantic Alliance now has two new members, Sweden and Finland, and continues to expand its presence on its eastern flank. Ukraine’s membership is no longer science fiction like it was in early 2022.

Human losses and departures

The only “success” that Moscow can boast of, the “annexation” of four Ukrainian regions, was explicitly rejected on February 24: “Our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories,” Vladimir Putin said that day. By choosing the path of annexation through puppet referendums, Russia has managed the feat of voluntarily turning its borders into a front line. Moscow does not even control two “capitals” of these new regions – Kherson and Zaporizhia.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers With tailor-made referendums, Moscow is moving towards the annexation of parts of Ukrainian territory

Mr Putin may have proclaimed for many months that “everything is going according to plan”, the picture is disastrous. And yet it is not complete. We should also remember Russia’s demographic bleeding, another obsession of Vladimir Putin. Not to mention the loss of life at the front, the departure of several hundred thousand of the most active and educated Russians is a long-term disaster.

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