The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, and the situation is not as clear as it was on the first day. What is Russia’s real intentions?
The outside world has been confused by Russia’s military activities. In addition to the strict restrictions on not hitting civilian targets, the use of precision-guided munitions is limited, and air superiority has not been fully exerted.
A preliminary judgment is: this is not a war of annihilation. The main reason is that Russia’s strike targets are concentrated on military infrastructure, political targets such as the head of the Ukrainian government have not been removed, and civilian facilities such as electricity and communications have not been attacked. The two things that left the deepest impression on the outside world are: one is to take a shortcut from Belarus to advance towards Kyiv, and the other is that the helicopter assault group blitzed Antonov Airport, 25 kilometers north of Kyiv.
From these two points of view, Russia’s intentions seem to be somewhat vague: related to Kyiv. This style of play is very close to the attack on Prague Airport during the Soviet era, but the force has changed from airborne troops to airborne infantry. If Russia’s purpose was to occupy Kyiv, then the Russian operation has failed compared to the 6-hour record that year. Therefore, it is reasonable to form a second judgment: Russia does not intend to surround or occupy Kyiv. So, what is Russia’s actual intention?
Open the map of Ukraine, the Dnieper River divides Ukraine in two. Coupled with the loss of control of East Ukraine in recent years, Ukraine has actually been divided into two parts, the east and the west. It is a natural goal to continue to legitimize this reality. It will also help Russia to increase the depth of defense and ease the eastward expansion of NATO. This is just the fact Need international recognition! It can be inferred that Russia’s real intention is: the legalization of Eastern Ukraine!
This legalization does not require Putin to deliver a televised speech, but also requires the approval of international rules run by the international community led by the United States, which is very difficult! So, Russia chose the last resort: go to war. Three points may be considered:
The first is to expose the true face of the United States and undermine the political foundation of NATO’s eastward expansion. After Russia decides to take military action, the U.S. did not send troops directly, exposed U.S. irresponsibility and sacrificed the interests of its allies, undermine U.S. national credibility and international leadership, disintegrate the political foundation for the U.S. to promote NATO’s eastward expansion, and directly achieve the effect of pulling money from the bottom.
The second is to use military operations and public opinion warfare to increase deterrence. The three aspects of power, determination, and opponent perception are inextricably linked in deterrence. The first two are clearly in Russia’s hands, and the third must be felt by everyone in Ukraine, from ordinary citizens to the president. As a result, the Ukrainian civilian communication network has been disrupted, and the social platform has shifted from basic clothing, food, housing, and transportation to missiles flying around, primarily to instil terror and shake people’s hearts.
The third goal is to “legitimise existing interests by battling for them.” For the obvious “government by dividing the river,” Russia requires international acknowledgment. The best way is to directly threaten the capital with military action in order to disintegrate the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian army and people; the most important thing is to legalise Eastern Ukraine by giving up the extermination war in exchange for international recognition of Russia’s interests.
Overall, Russia’s military operations are not strong enough and still mainly aimed at political disintegration. At present, the first two points have been achieved, and the last point should complete soon. The final script may be: the international community, following the popular opinion of Eastern Ukraine, agrees to divide Ukraine in two.