Author: Ming Shuyuan official account: Ming shuzatan wechat id:laomingdashu
Many people are asking, what is the ultimate goal of Russia in the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine?
Does Russia want to completely occupy Ukraine? Or just occupy the areas of eastern Ukraine that traditionally have a large Russian population?
No outsider can clearly understand the real thoughts of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Putin’s latest speech provides us with some clues to interpret his deep thoughts.
June 9, 2022 coincides with the 350th anniversary of the birth of Czar Peter I.
Peter I, also known as Peter the great, is the only two czars with the title of “great” in Russian history.
Peter the great ascended the throne in 1682 and took office in 1689. In 1697, he sent a mission to Europe to learn advanced technology. He himself disguised himself as a junior officer. Peter the great started the reform of the overall westernization of Russia, and finally established the Russian Empire. He created a modern navy and army for Russia. During his reign, Russia’s national strength was greatly boosted and Russia became a European power in one fell swoop.
In the “Great Northern War” from 1700 to 1721, Peter the great united the then kingdom of Denmark Norway and the kingdom of Poland Lithuania to defeat the kingdom of Sweden, which had previously controlled the hegemony of the Baltic Sea, and opened the sea port for Russia to the Baltic Sea at one stroke.
Peter the great also built St. Petersburg along the Baltic Sea, making it the political, economic and cultural center of Russia for more than 200 years.
As early as 2003, when Putin first became president of Russia, he said that Peter the great was the person he admired most in his life.
On June 9, after visiting the exhibition commemorating Peter the great, Putin made a meaningful remark during a discussion with young Russian entrepreneurs.
He first reviewed history and stressed that although some people believed that Peter the great had occupied some areas along the Baltic Sea during the “Great Northern War”, in fact, Slavic people have lived in these areas since ancient times. Therefore, Peter the great only recovered and strengthened these areas, not occupied them. Then, he brought the topic back to reality, “today, we also have the responsibility to recover and strengthen (some regions)”.
Putin did not clearly say which regions Russia should recover and strengthen today, but considering the ongoing Russian Ukrainian war, it is clear that he compared with Peter the great that Russia’s current “special military operations” in eastern Ukraine are not to occupy, but to recover and strengthen these lands that originally belonged to Russia in history.
Before the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Putin delivered a long speech, saying that “Ukraine has never had a long tradition of being a stable country”.
You can take a look at the two maps above. The first is a simplified map of the historical changes of Ukrainian territory, and the second is the official map currently used by Ukraine.
By comparing the two maps, it can be found that when Russia and Ukraine merged in 1654, Ukraine had only a territory roughly equivalent to Dnepropetrovsk and kilovograd; From 1654 to 1917, Russia helped Ukraine acquire a large area of territory equivalent to today’s central and Northern Ukraine; In 1922, Lenin assigned Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, zaporoze, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa to Ukraine; In 1939 and 1945, the Soviet Union won four western states for Ukraine; In 1954, Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine.
In his long speech before the war, Putin was very dissatisfied with Lenin and Khrushchev’s delimitation of large areas of Russian territory to Ukraine.
In Putin’s view, over the past 400 years, Ukraine has been helped and supported by Russia. Today, the vast majority of Ukrainian territory is won by Russia through war after war, in the battle between blood and fire.
It is also for this reason that since 2014, Ukraine, instigated by the United States, has become an anti Russian pioneer, and even brutally persecuted and suppressed some Ukrainians of Russian descent, which makes Putin feel that the Ukrainian government is ungrateful.
From the perspective of Putin comparing himself to Peter the great, in the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Russia at least wants to take back all the territory given to Ukraine by Lenin in 1922 and “recover and strengthen”.
At the beginning of the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian army was too optimistic about the war situation. At one time, it made a long-distance attack and attacked everywhere. The Ukrainian army, which was widely supported by NATO, was caught by surprise and suffered heavy casualties.
However, since the second stage, the Russian army has been playing a steady and steady role. At present, it is winning the “Donbas region” including Lugansk and Donetsk. In addition, the Russian army has won Kherson and zaporoze before, and the Russian army has opened the land channel from the Crimean Peninsula to udong region.
The goal of the third stage of the Russian army is obviously to take Kharkov in the north, Nikolayev and Odessa in the south, not only to recover this land that once belonged to Russia in history, but also to completely turn the “ungrateful” Ukraine into a landlocked country.
In his mobilization speech before the war, Putin bitterly pointed out that the above-mentioned regions were once important industrial bases of the Soviet Union, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has lost all the pearls on the Soviet Union’s industrial crown.
“In 2021, the Black Sea shipyard in Nikolayev was removed from the list. It was built during the period of yekaterina II. The famous Antonov company has not produced a series of aircraft since 2016, while the yuzmash machinery plant and the kremenchuk steel plant specializing in rocket and space technology are on the verge of bankruptcy. These sad lists continue to grow. As for the natural gas built in the Soviet era The transportation system is already in a dilapidated state, with great operational risks and environmental costs. “
Combined with this speech, we can infer Putin’s goal: since Ukraine is not ambitious and outrageous, it would be better for Russia to recover these regions directly, since Ukraine has done all the heavy industrialists left by the Soviet Union and managed Ukraine in a mess.
Let’s take a look at the third map, which shows the distribution of languages and nationalities in Ukraine. From this, we can also find that Putin’s goal is to recover the eastern and southern Ukraine, which has a large number of Russians and Russian speaking population.
The vast majority of Crimea’s population are Russians. Putin has won the region in 2014 and incorporated Crimea into Russia through a referendum; In the three states of Kherson, Nikolayev and Dnepropetrovsk, most people speak Russian; Most people in Odessa speak Russian; Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk and zaporoze all have a large Russian population.
If Russia takes all these regions, Ukraine will lose at least 40%-45% of its territory.
Intuitively, the map of Ukraine will change from a “chicken bent on the west” to a “headless turtle”.
We can say that this is Putin’s ultimate goal in the Russia Ukraine war.
There are several obvious benefits for Russia to achieve this goal:
First, severely punish Ukraine and turn it into a landlocked country. Ukraine will not only lose 40%-45% of its territory, but also permanently lose its access to the sea in the Black Sea;
Second, to deter other anti Russian forces around Russia who are ready to stir up under the instigation of NATO;
Third, Russia controls the Azov Sea and the Black Sea in an all-round way.
These areas are also the places where the Russian ancestors shed blood and fought with the Ottoman Empire, Nazi Germany and so on. The recovery of these regions has special historical significance and national emotional value for Russia.
For Russia, there is a more favorable condition for achieving the above goals: these regions are close to the Russian mainland. Even after that, Russia has to face off with Ukraine for a long time, and the supply problem of the Russian army is not big, so it can stick to it for a long time.
For the United States, the next few months will be more and more embarrassing.
No matter how much it supports Ukraine, Ukraine is doomed on the battlefield.
At present, Ukrainian President Zelensky has a kind of intention of “relying on” the United States and other western countries. He not only wants to “jump in the queue” on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, but also urges NATO member states to provide more military assistance to Ukraine again and again. For this reason, he even uses the practice of “moral kidnapping”.
Through the Russia Ukraine war, the United States completely ended the reconciliation process between Russia and European countries, and eliminated any possibility of Russia’s re integration into the West. The United States also locked the space for cooperation between Russia and the west through a series of sanctions.
But strategically, the United States has completely turned Russia into the enemy of the United States under the background of the game between China and the United States, and has irreversibly pushed Russia to the side of China.
If we say “national destiny”, this is “national destiny”.
To some extent, Russia’s launching of the Russia Ukraine war has played a strategic “cover” role for China, comparable to the “September 11” incident in 2001.
Tactically speaking, after the United States has achieved its main goal of “using Ukraine to control Russia”, it will “abandon everything in disorder” to avoid turning its assistance to Ukraine into a “bottomless pit”.
In the past few months, the United States has taken positive actions around the world to urge Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America to condemn and impose sanctions on Russia, but this process has been very unsuccessful. The vast majority of countries are not willing to offend Russia for the sake of the United States.
There will also be more and more contradictions between the United States and its allies on how to share the cost of assisting Ukraine and confronting Russia.
The strategic weakness of the United States on the Ukrainian issue is emerging.
Of course, there is another possibility of development in the Russian Ukrainian war.
If the Russian army makes smooth progress in the next three to four months, after taking all the territory from Kharkov to Odessa, it does not rule out the possibility that the Russian army will continue to advance to the west of Ukraine, and finally completely end Ukraine’s status as an independent state.
Under the circumstances that the United States and other NATO countries dare not directly participate in the war, if the war lasts for three years, Russia may indeed achieve this goal.
However, the corresponding risk is that the more the Russian army goes West, the more serious the Ukrainian national complex of the local people and the more intense the anti Russian sentiment. The Russian army will face the constant harassment and attacks of Ukrainian guerrillas and even some extreme terrorist organizations. The Russian army will pay a high price for controlling these areas.
At that time, the United States can continue to support Ukrainians to carry out guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks behind the enemy lines, so as to consume Russia and turn Ukraine into a second Afghanistan, or turn Ukraine into the “Vietnam nightmare” that the United States encountered in the past, to torture today’s Russia.
In any case, the fate of Ukraine as a “consumable” is moving towards a tragic end.
Russia has raised the table on the Ukrainian issue, and it is still struggling with NATO led by the United States. In any case, it will create a new period of strategic opportunities for China.
Let us seize this period of strategic opportunity and accumulate strength to prepare for the possible showdown of China US strategy.