When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war against Ukraine a year ago, he wanted to keep NATO at bay. But he has achieved the exact opposite: NATO will take on new members and develop a closer working relationship with the European Union, lending vastly more geopolitical weight to the transatlantic region.
BERLIN – Next month, Russia’s violent assault on neighboring Ukraine will have been going on for one year. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan for a quick “special military operation” – a “Blitzkrieg” – has failed, owing to Ukraine’s unflinching resistance, the West’s united support of its defense, and Russia’s own incompetence.
Rather than a rapid military victory culminating in regime change, Putin’s “special operation” has instead descended into positional warfare. Even after a year, no one can say for certain when and how the war will end. Most likely, it will continue for some time, claiming many more victims. Yet it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Russia could still achieve its primary goal of eliminating Ukraine as a sovereign, independent state.
As long as NATO and its member states continue to provide military and economic support to Ukraine, and as long as the Ukrainian people maintain their resolve, Russia will not achieve its war aims. This realization seems to be dawning slowly on the Kremlin, which has stepped up its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and mobilized hundreds of thousands of conscripts. Russian military leaders are now betting on a long-term strategy of demoralization and exhaustion, relying on sheer numerical superiority over the Ukrainian army.