Defense experts: ‘Putin now seems to be aiming more at the West’

This afternoon Vladimir Putin formally annexed the occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya.


In his speech, he said that the inhabitants of these areas wanted to join the Russian people and that ‘they should listen to the voice of the people’.

Watch Putin announce the results of the referendum in eastern Ukraine below:

‘Hope puha’

“He announced it all with a lot of fuss and let himself come across as a big man who has it all under control,” says Dick Zandee, defense expert at Clingendael. “After the speech, there was a big applause machine and there was a party at the end.”

That was the outside, then on the substance of the speech: “It was a long diatribe against the West, with words like ‘colonialism’. And he mentioned the deployment of the nuclear weapons that America has used against Japan. It was far-reaching rhetoric. “

Rhetoric against the West

One thing Zandee found really striking: Putin didn’t necessarily target the “angry, narcissistic and pernicious Ukraine” as he has done before. “That was not the framing now, but the rhetoric against the West. I think he chose that direction because there is a growing resistance in Russia to the war in Ukraine. More Russians support the idea that the West is no good. Putting the emphasis on that, I think he hopes will lead to more support for the regime.”

Still, Zandee believes that support will be temporary. “The mobilization continues, it will take weeks. The Kremlin is now sending untrained and ill-equipped men to the front. That ‘cannon fodder’ is the reason for the unrest. I don’t know if that will go away with an anti-Western feeling. “

Predictable Speech

Former commander of the Land Forces Mart de Kruif also saw this rhetoric against the West. “Putin reversed the attack and said that the West is now attacking Russia. The Russian people should defend the culture of the free world, according to him, they should defend themselves against the colonialism of the West.”

De Kruif did not find the speech very surprising. “I thought it was a predictable speech,” he says. “Putin has called on the Russian people to unite against the West. “He also made reference to nuclear weapons used by the United States. He was expected to say this.”

Fighting will continue

It will take a few days for the annexation to be official by the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, and the Russian senate. And then? Defense expert Dick Zandee: “Well, Ukraine will never recognize this decision. Zelensky will continue his struggle. The West will also continue to support Zelensky.”

The fighting will therefore continue for the time being. “The Russian units will try to hit everything that can disrupt Ukrainian society: power plants, infrastructure.”

‘It would benefit from a break’

But the question remains how long both countries will last. There is a shortage of personnel, a shortage of ammunition, troops are no longer deployable due to fatigue. “Russia and Ukraine would both benefit from taking a break, to regroup. That would also make sense and it is also what a senior Russian commander advised. But logic is not always at the top of the Kremlin’s mind. Putin responded to the proposal with: no, we must continue.”

De Kruif also thinks a break would be good. “Winter would be a good time for a status quo for both sides to rearm and for re-equipment. Then it would be diplomats’ turn to take over. With the European Union and the United States on one side and China on the other hand, these countries can not only negotiate based on their convictions, but also put external pressure on them.”

‘Agreement seems impossible’

De Kruif thinks that the war will not come to an end without political pressure. “That pressure must come from China, that country also has an interest in an end of the war. The war in Ukraine affects international trade, which affects China.”

Zandee does not know whether a negotiation will succeed. “It is clear that China wants the war to end. But for a negotiation with Putin you also need Zelensky, who is not willing to negotiate as long as the annexation is there and there are Russian troops in his country. Putin can do that annexation.” not turning back, that is losing face. It is now almost impossible for both countries to reach an agreement.”

Source: RTL Nieuws by

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