I’ve written about Vladimir Putin’s desire to put the Russian Empire back together again. It still may be on his wish list, but the Ukrainians aren’t cooperating. A second-best is to grab more of their territory, and the fighting now seems to have that objective. But there’s a third objective underlying the other two.
Russia is proving that it is a great power. Reconstituting the Russian Empire would have proved that, but, as I say, the Ukrainians prefer to mess around with heathen Westerners. Very well then, there are other ways Russia can prove it’s a great power.
Part of Putin’s prewar rhetoric was complaints about US unipolarity. This goes back to the Iraq war and, before that, to US intervention in the Balkans. Russia should have been consulted! Putin would like a peace agreement about Ukraine with the US or NATO, Ukraine participation optional. Russia is not being recognized as a great power, and the war is intended to remedy that. Great powers can fuck up shit. (Not my customary language, but I think that expresses Putin’s goal.)
Thus the targeting of residential areas.
Of historic and religious sites.
And the grain blockade, plus destruction just because Russia can do it.
Putin’s message to the world: Russia can wreck a neighboring country. Russia can disrupt Europe with refugees. Russia can cause hunger in the world. Russia is a great power.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner