DANIEL: All signs point to this map as the end state of Russia’s war in Ukraine | Newstalk Florida


DANIEL HAYDEN

Russia’s war effort took a hit when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to withdraw from the outskirts of kyiv and large swathes of northern Ukraine.

Russian gains have been reduced to a strip of land in southern Ukraine linking Crimea to Russia and a northeast pocket adjacent to the Donbass region, which has been under de facto Russian control since separatists backed by the Kremlin started a war of independence against Ukraine in 2014. .

The humiliating retreat from the gates of the Ukrainian capital has ended any hope of a quick Russian victory in Ukraine, and now Western intelligence experts predict that Russia is consolidating its forces for a new offensive in the south and Donbass.

Russia failed miserably to conquer Ukraine in one fell swoop, and Ukrainian resistance, bolstered by Western equipment, continues to stiffen. So what could Russia’s end goal be?

Russia’s heavy losses in men and materiel to simply secure the border regions most likely prevents a total annexation of the whole country, but Russia does not need to do this to achieve its declared war aims.

Russia seems to be moving away from total conquest to reclaim a former region of the Russian Empire that occupies an important place in the country’s cultural identity: New Russia.

This map shows what could be Russia’s new end goal in the war: via Wikimedia Commons”>

New Russia, Novorossiya in Russian, refers to the lands of what is now southern Ukraine that were conquered by the Russian Empire in the late 18th century. The lands were previously controlled by the Ottoman Empire, Russia’s great rival, and their client states. The Russians viewed the conquest of these lands as vitally important so that Russia could obtain a warm water port in the Black Sea, crucial for trade with the West, and push the border with the Muslim Ottomans away from the heart of Russia.

During the reign of Catherine the Great, Russian settlers colonized the area and new cities were founded to cement Russian rule there. Several of these cities, such as Mariupol and Kherson, saw brutal fighting during the last Russian invasion. Donbass, which was the eastern part of New Russia, became a major industrial center for the Russian Empire and beyond. Soviet propaganda referred to Donbass as “the heart of Russia” in the 1920s.

Despite the defeat in the north, the Russian army found much more success in southern Ukraine, taking much of the territory that once made up New Russia.

This map shows the current military situation in Ukraine:Viewsridge, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2022_russian_invasion_of_Ukraine.svg
Viewsridge, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There are several reasons why Putin might plan only to reclaim New Russia rather than attempt to completely subjugate Ukraine.

First, it is a goal that the Russian army can actually achieve. Most of New Russia is already occupied; only the western area remains around the strategic port city of Odessa and part of the territory west of the Donbass.

Second, it responds to Russia’s strategic interests. An autonomous or semi-autonomous New Russia would give the Kremlin a new puppet state and serve as a useful buffer state between Russia and the West – just as it served as a buffer zone against the Ottomans. It would also provide a land corridor to Crimea, which functions as an extremely important naval base in the Black Sea.

Finally, it satisfies one of the reasons given by Russia for the invasion and plays into Putin’s propaganda about the war. Putin claimed that the Russian invasion would end “genocide” and the oppression of Russian speakers in Ukraine. Russian is the native language of almost 30% of the Ukrainian population, and they are heavily concentrated in the east and south of the country.

In fact, the vast majority of Russian speakers in Ukraine live in what was once New Russia, as this map illustrates:via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Thus, taking these lands would fulfill Putin’s promise to protect Russian speakers and allow them to create their own state.

The separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, where more than 70% of the population speaks Russian, have made it clear that they intend to re-establish New Russia as a political entity. After the initial secession in early 2014, separatist leaders proclaimed the creation of the federal state of New Russia, a confederation of regions where Russian is the majority language or represents a significant minority.

The new country would have included these territories:

The proposed state bears a strong resemblance to historical New Russia and the current frontline in the war. The proposed union was scrapped in 2015 as the war with the Ukrainian government dragged on, but it could serve as a model for the current conflict.

The New Russian federal state could be created through a formal peace process or through an informal ceasefire. If Russia occupies the territory and holds it against Ukrainian counterattacks, Ukraine could be forced to recognize de facto Russian control over the territory while claiming that it is legally part of Ukraine.

From there, it could remain an independent country, albeit heavily influenced by Russia, just like Belarus, or it could be incorporated into the Russian Federation.

Most Russians are well aware of their history and how distant they are from the glory days of the Russian Empire or even the Soviet Union. Reclaiming a province that has always been considered an integral part of the empire and looms large in the Russian national imagination would go a long way to rehabilitating Putin’s image after the initial botched invasion and further cementing his image as a leader who will return to Russia. to its historic glory.

As Russian troops redeploy in southern and eastern Ukraine, Russian leaders will have to make a decision – redouble their efforts in their failed bid to take over all of Ukraine or try to reclaim a region steeped in Russian history and fulfilling all Russia’s war aims. The latter option would certainly cost fewer Russian lives and could constitute acceptable terms in a peace treaty, while the former option virtually guarantees a longer and more destructive war – a war that, at best, would give Russia a victory at all. the Pyrrhus.

Hayden Daniel is the Opinion Editor of The Daily Caller.

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