What Does Vladimir Putin Really Want in Ukraine?

Russia has over 100,000 troops built up around Ukraine. America is sending troops to eastern Europe and warning Russian leader Vladimir Putin not to make any moves.

It’s the geopolitical equivalent of an armed standoff. Both parties are ready to shoot. Both are daring the other to make a move and closely tracking each other’s movements.

However, as we stand on the precipice of another armed conflict, it’s time to step back and take a look at what Putin actually wants.

Let’s cut through the rhetoric and propaganda of the Russian regime and the Biden regime and make a realistic assessment of what Putin desires.

What Does Putin Want?

To start with, let’s look at what Putin has said regarding Ukraine. He said members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must promise officially and on paper to never grant NATO membership to Ukraine.

NATO hasn’t offered Ukraine membership, as far as anyone knows. Ukraine is still far from meeting the transparency and security requirements of being a NATO state. Still, they clearly want to join.

The 2013-2014 protests that overthrew the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, put Ukraine back into the hands of pro-Western political forces who are focused on moving closer to the West.

Since the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, NATO has crept eastward. Putin says it breaks agreements between Russia and the West and is a geopolitical attempt to strangle Russia’s sovereignty.

Is this really all that it’s about, or is Putin up to something else?

This Isn’t Really About Ukraine

It’s clear that Putin wants Ukraine out of NATO and out of the sphere of Western influence. Yet, this ultimately isn’t even about Ukraine. It’s about NATO and Western power as a whole.

Putin wants NATO troops and weapons out of the Baltic states: Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. He also wants NATO installations and assets out of Poland and Romania.

These troops and missile systems are already well established and NATO has no real reason to withdraw them. That’s why Putin is building up an armada on the border of Ukraine. It’s not really about Ukraine.

It’s about Putin trying to push NATO and the United States back and reclaim Russia’s former backyard. He wants to grow Russian influence, or at least push back Western influence, and give Baltic and central European states a chance to once again open to Russia.

This is about economics, military power, culture, and strategy.

The Bottom Line

The tension over Ukraine is about much more than just Ukraine.

While there is every reason this fight should not happen, the amount of buildup and failure to agree on either side could lead to armed conflict in the near future.