The United States and its allies have expressed concern about the presence of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. Several diplomatic attempts were made to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to order the withdrawal of troops, but the efforts yielded little result.
The US and its allies say more than 1.5 lakh Russian troops are stationed a few miles from the Ukrainian border and are “ready to attack”. US President Joe Biden’s statement on Friday that Russia could attack Ukraine “within days” is based on assessments made by intelligence agencies and satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies.
Footage shows troops at the rail yard in Opuk and Yevpatoria, in the territories that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014. Then there are images of armored vehicles and tanks on sites at Lake Donuzlav and Novoozernoye.
Russia has also sent troops to Belarus for a military exercise, surrounding Ukraine on three sides, which the West says is preparation for an attack unless Moscow’s security demands are met.
So, is this aggressive posturing just saber rattling, or is Putin serious about attacking Ukraine? And what happened in his head? Experts decipher the Russian leader’s worldview and his obsession with Ukraine.
According to Fiona Hill, a senior intelligence officer and political adviser who recently served in the Trump administration, Putin has been trying to subdue Ukraine for years.
“They cut off the gas to Ukraine in 2006. He’s been in power for 22 years, and all that time he’s had Ukraine in his sights one way or another, and it’s gone wrong. is intensified over time,” she told the New York. Times.
“Putin wants to be the person who, under his leadership, under his presidency, brings Ukraine back into Russia’s orbit. And he could be president until 2036, depending on what’s possible for him,” Hill added.
Hill, Washington’s top experts on the Russian president, claimed it was personal for Putin who wants to create a “Russian empire.” “Ukraine is the outlier, the one that got away that he has to bring back.”
In a 2015 speech, Putin called Ukraine “the jewel in Russia’s crown”, raising fears among US intelligence agencies that he wants to annex the country. The statement was made just a year after Russia invaded and occupied the Ukrainian region of Crimea, using sympathetic separatists.
As recently as July 2021, the Russian President wrote an essay in which he called Russia and Ukraine one people – “one whole”. He accused the “forces of division” of having created a wall between Russia and Ukraine. He then gave a historical perspective on why Ukraine should not be a separate country from “Mother Russia”.
Analysts say Putin wants all countries on Russia’s periphery to be pro-Russian, and that’s why overtures made by the Ukrainian government to the Western-led NATO alliance l got angry.
“He wants his legacy to be like the czars of the past or the leaders of the Soviet Union. He wants to bring Russia to a level where it is feared, respected and treated seriously on the world stage,” John Sipher, former head of the CIA’s Russia program, told CNN.
He added that Putin wanted people to come to Russia to solve their problems, and that’s why the former KGB officer is flexing his muscles.
Meanwhile, Moscow denies plans to attack its western neighbour, but demands a guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO and that the western alliance will withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe. The West, however, refused to accept these demands.