In an interview with The New Yorker published this Wednesday, Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov discussed Russia's setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine, saying that it's clear that the Russian government "now understands that it’s going to be a long, conventional war, not the small military operation they pretended it would be."
According to Soldatov, Russian President Vladimir Putin is "out of options."
"He’s quite limited. He got himself in a big war, and right now the military is finally quite convinced that they are fighting a really big war, not just some limited conflict," Soldatov said. "So what’s he going to do? He needs to vow to keep going in Ukraine. And he understands that he’s fighting a conventional army, not some group of Nazis."
Soldatov went on to say that the Russian army is "on the losing end, because the Ukrainian Army is a completely mobilized army that actually claims it can call on hundreds of thousands more in reserves." There is also a realization within the Russian military that it "picked up a fight with NATO in the wrong place."
At this point, the most interesting thing about Russia's invasion is that no one really knows what Putin's goals are, Soldatov says.
"The thinking is that, look, we are sustaining heavy casualties and suffering a lot, so the goal of occupying the Donbas cannot be the objective of such a war. We need something a bit more ambitious, and some pro-military channels on Telegram have just conducted polls and asked their subscribers, 'What do you think? When will the objective for this war be achieved?' And only six per cent of people said that it would be achieved with the 'liberation' of the Donbas, while thirty-three per cent said it would be when the whole of Ukraine capitulates unconditionally. People in the military and people close to the military want something much more ambitious than what Putin is saying."
Read the full interview at The New Yorker.
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