Ambitions, strategies, goals, military means … Carole Grimaud Potter, specialist in Russia at the University of Montpellier, answers our questions about the intentions with Vladimir Putin’s Russia at the time of the war in Ukraine.
Carole Grimaud Potter is Professor of Russian Geopolitics at the University of Montpellier and at the Institut Diplomatique de Paris. She founded the think tank CREER in Geneva (Center For Russia and Eastern Europe Research). The researcher answers our questions about Vladimir Putin’s deep ambitions, in Ukraine and more generally in Eastern Europe.
Vladimir Putin’s original plan to quickly invade Ukraine failed. What is his strategy now?
We see that the Russian troops are stuck. The death toll is between 5,000 and 6,000 dead, according to the Americans. On the Ukrainian side it would be 15,000. Today we see far fewer troop movements, in order to retain as many soldiers as possible. It’s a bloodbath. If you compare the numbers with Afghanistan, these are 15,000 died in 10 years, in Ukraine we would be almost 10,000 dead in three weeks. It’s completely disgusting. The military is revising their strategy. They no longer engage in troop movements. The goal (with the Kremlin, editor’s note) is to take the arc that runs from Kharkiv, to the northeast, the entire Donbass, the entire maritime coast of Ukraine, to Moldova. Although there is a fearful takeover of the Ukrainian army, especially in the southern part of the country, in Kherson.
Russia now appears to be attacking civilians. Is this a new maneuver?
First it was the military and the air bases (which were bombed, editor’s note), then the Russians turned to the cities. We have seen that it is the homes that have been affected. You have to take the cities, and the cities are homes. The strategy does not change, but today we are witnessing many more bombings and air offenses rather than ground-based ones. The goal is to keep as many troops as possible On-site.
The United States is urging Russia’s imminent use of chemical and biological weapons. What is the interest of the Kremlin?
The interest is shocked, to hope that the troops surrender. Hope the people no longer fight, no longer resist. It is a weapon used for the purpose of hit public opinion, the Ukrainian government and make the population bow and resistance. But this hypothesis is up to the United States.
Volodymyr Zelensky regularly repeats that Ukraine would not be the last country on Vladimir Putin’s list. Can we reasonably believe that the Russian president will invade other nations after Ukraine?
Zelensky waves the red flag to scare Europeans. He says it, he has been hammering at it for some time: ‘the war is in Ukraine and the next ones are you’ “. On the Russian side, the army could not expand its aggression to other countries, especially since with NATO countries, Russia knows very well , what to expect in return. The Russian army is taking a real setback in Ukraineit will not be able to extend the fighting to other fronts.
A Russian analyst estimated that the scenario for Ukraine was drawn up ten years ago. This brings us back to the annexation of Crimea in the years 2014. It is a scenario in the drawers, which was reviewed regularly. If it is ever the intention to reorganize Europe as it was before 1997, and therefore all the integrations in NATO, it is a much longer-term plan.
What are the possibilities for a way out of the crisis?
Putin will not give up. It is an existential war for the Kremlin. He commits his credibility, he commits himself to his existence as president, his achievement, to have made Russia what he wanted. A power that can radiate into the world, affect and restore historical boundaries. To fail would be to obliterate his twenty years of achievement. Putin will not give up, it is impossible.
Vladimir Putin is transforming Russian society
This war allows him regain full control of the populationfrom the Russian company. Vladimir Putin is transforming Russian society. It is this society that during Soviet times had replaced socialism with chewing gum and jeans. In the spirit of the Kremlin, the Russian company has today exchanged its traditional values with iPhones and with TikTok or Facebook. Putin is creating a new Russian society. This had already been its goal since the 2010s, with the resumption of control of the media, the opposition, and so on. This war gives him the opportunity to go even further in his goal..
I believe that Russia has placed the whole of Ukraine in a giant Donbass, that is, the concern for the unresolved Donbass has extended to the whole of Ukraine. Today we are in the same stalemate as with the Minsk agreements.