What Does Putin Want?

International efforts to get Vladimir Putin to negotiate or at least fear the consequences of invading Ukraine have failed, writes Alexandra Vacroux in The Boston Globe.

On Monday night, President Vladimir Putin of Russia addressed the Russian people and prepared them for war. Hours later, he ordered troops to move into Eastern Ukraine, in what the White House characterized as the beginning of an invasion.

Russia can no longer stand by while the American-controlled government of Volodymyr Zelensky pulls Ukraine into NATO, he said. “Ukraine,” Putin stated in his broadcast to the nation, “will serve as a forward springboard for a strike” against Russia.

International efforts to get Putin to negotiate or at least fear the consequences of invasion have failed. Clearly, Putin doesn’t yet have what he wants. What does he want?

Security. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 precipitated the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. East European countries that had been members of the Warsaw Pact — the Soviet answer to NATO — wanted insurance that they wouldn’t be threatened by Russia in the future. Fourteen countries joined NATO, moving the border of the alliance 600 miles closer to Russia.

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Executive Director, Davis Center

Alexandra Vacroux is the Davis Center's executive director, overseeing graduate studies and other initiatives while doing scholarly work on various policy issues.