Russia launched the special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. President Putin announced that the goal of the special military operation would be to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine. Later, the state rhetoric was supplemented with the need to liberate and protect the people of Donbass.
Many lessons have been learned and combat experienced gained one and a half years into the conflict. Pravda.Ru asked experts to share their views on what goals Russia is striving to achieve in Ukraine today and whether those goals have changed in 18 months.
According to political scientist Konstantin Blokhin, Russia's prime goal in Ukraine is to change the regime in Kyiv.
"No one has changed the goals. Putin announced them from the start. They are demilitarisation, denazification of Ukraine and the liberation of Donbass from the oppression of the Kyiv regime. In plain words, this is a classic regime change. If there is a state that we want to deprive of its military components, neo-Nazism ideology and territories, then this is a regime change. As a result of the regime change, a pro-Russian government should be installed. In my opinion, an extensive chain of Russian army bases on the territory of Ukraine would be the best guarantee that Ukraine would never join NATO," the expert explained.
Konstantin Blokhin also spoke about the tasks that turned out to be most difficult to accomplish.
"During the special operation we could see the West showing its aggressiveness and Russophobia at its finest. The West supported Ukraine unconditionally and started supplying tons of arms there. Extensive arms supplies from the West have complicated the process of the special military operation. In fact, it is all of the West that Russia is confronting in Ukraine. It just so happened that Russia is at war with the West on the territory of Ukraine," Blokhin said.
"The goals have remained the same, but the tools and technology may have changed as the operation develops. This is a tactical issue, but strategically, however, I think we have one goal. We understand that if we do not achieve the main goal, then a new round of aggression against our state is going to occur," political analyst Anatoly Gagarin told Pravda.Ru.
Military analyst Alexander Pylaev believes that one can see new goals that Russia is facing at the moment, 18 months into the conflict. One of these goals is the need to negotiate with the West, the expert believes.
"New goals have emerged. They have been revisited. This is what the Kremlin was trying to offer to Western elites before the start of the special operation. It was a tempting prospect, but the West eventually decided that it would take it all. Today, we can see that an opportunity to bargain with the West has reemerged. Of course, the Kremlin always keeps in mind a possibility of talks with "esteemed Western partners" in order to feel comfortable and not worry too much about military challenges and ensuing costs," Alexander Pylaev concluded.
Former US intelligence officer Scott Ritter believes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should flee Ukraine.