Why is Putin obsessed with Ukraine? What do experts say

Russia-Ukraine crisis: Russian experts say that Ukraine’s matter is private to President Putin.

The United States and its allies have been expressing concerns about the presence of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine. Several diplomatic attempts have been made to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to order the withdrawal of troops, but efforts have yielded little result.

The US and its allies say more than 1.5 million Russian troops are stationed just a few kilometers from Ukraine’s border and are “ready to attack”. US President Joe Biden’s statement Friday that Russia could attack Ukraine “within days” is based on assessments made by intelligence agencies and satellite images released by Maxar Technologies.

Images show troops at the Opuk and Yevpatoriya railyards in areas seized by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. Then there are images of armored vehicles and tanks in the sites of Donuzlav and Novozernoy Lake.

Russia has also sent Belarus to conduct military drills to encircle Ukraine from three sides, which the West says is preparing to attack until Moscow’s security demands are met.

So is this aggressive posture just a saber rattle, or is Putin serious about attacking Ukraine? And what’s going on in his mind? Experts decode the Russian leader’s world view and his passion for Ukraine.

According to Fiona Hill, a senior intelligence official and policy adviser who most recently served in the Trump administration, Putin has been trying to hold on to Ukraine for years.

“He cut the gas to Ukraine in 2006. He has been in power for 22 years, and throughout that time, he has kept Ukraine in the cross hairs, and it has intensified over time,” she told the New York Times.

“Putin wants to be the person who, under his presidency, pulls Ukraine back into Russia’s orbit. And he could be president by 2036, for what’s possible,” Hill said.

Hill, Washington’s leading expert on the Russian president, claimed it was personal to Putin who wants to create a “Russian Empire”. “Ukraine is an outsider, what has gone away has to be brought back.”

In a 2015 speech, Putin famously called Ukraine the “crown jewel of Russia”, raising concerns among US intelligence agencies that he wants to take over the country. The statement was made just a year after Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean region of Ukraine, using sympathetic separatists.

Most recently in July, 2021, the Russian President wrote an essay in which he called Russia and Ukraine one person – “a whole”. He blamed “divisive forces” for building the wall between Russia and Ukraine. He then gave a historical perspective as to why Ukraine should not be a separate country from “Mother Russia”.

Analysts say Putin wants all countries on Russia’s periphery to be pro-Russian, and that’s why the Ukrainian government’s proposals to the West-led NATO alliance have angered him.

“He wants his legacy to be like the czars of the past or the heads of the Soviet Union. He wants to take Russia to a level where it is feared, respected and treated seriously on the world stage,” said the CIA. John Cipher, the former head of the Russian program, told CNN.

He said that Putin wants people to come to Russia and get their problems resolved and that is the reason why former KGB officials are using their power.

Meanwhile, Moscow has denied plans to attack its western neighbour, but is demanding guarantees that Ukraine will never join NATO and that the Western Coalition will withdraw troops from Eastern Europe. However, the West has refused to accede to these demands.

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