Russia-Ukraine war: What's on Putin's mind and what will he do next?

Russia-Ukraine war: What's on Putin's mind and what will he do next?

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine stretches to day 7, the mounting death toll and economic and trade countermeasures deployed against Russia are leading to the obvious question.

Russia-Ukraine war: What is Putin's next move? Russia-Ukraine war: What is Putin's next move?

At the crux of the Russia-Ukraine war lies a big question: what will Vladimir Putin do next? 

His moves have so far defied expectations and experts and world leaders are scrambling to understand exactly what is in the mercurial Russian President's mind. Plus, lies some crucial hardcore facts. 

The ongoing invasion of Ukraine hasn't reportedly gone as per Putin's expectations, with the Ukrainians mounting a considerable resistance, something which was not quite expected. Will Putin then shift his tactics? Will they be more brutal? Will he go through Europe? 

University of Toledo professor Joel Voss, Ph.D, told ABC News recently that the fact that Putin’s decisions are not what most people could predict is worrisome. The fact that he actually went through with an invasion is shocking, he argued.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who serves on the Ukraine Congressional caucus, said that the concern here is that Putin is trying to return the region to the Soviet Union days. This is quite a blow to the Ukrainian people who struggled out of those times to vote for their own independence, currently under attack. She called the fight to emerge out of the decades-long oppression ‘truly inspiring’. 

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Russia expert Fiona Hill told the Politico in a lengthy interview that Putin’s vision is to establish Russian dominance of what it sees as the ‘Russian Imperium’. She points out that the Russian leader has articulated the idea of a ‘Russky Mir’ or ‘Russian World’ and has been at it since at least the time he invaded Georgia.

What's next for Putin?
Design: Mohsin Shaikh

In a 7,000-word essay, amid the pandemic lockdown, Putin had written extensively about how Ukrainians and Russians are ‘one people’. Hill says that this idea of the Russian world means re-gathering all the Russian speakers in different parts of the world that once belonged to the Russian tsardom.  

Many reports, as well as Hill, state that Putin in the middle of the pandemic went through the history, geography and treaties of Russia from centuries ago, buried in the Kremlin archives. He, in his essay, also said that certain mistakes were made over time which led to the divide between the two countries. 

It must also be pointed out that before the war began, Putin threatened ‘ominous consequences’. “As for military affairs, even after the dissolution of the USSR and losing a considerable part of its capabilities, today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states. 

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Moreover, it has a certain advantage in several cutting-edge weapons. In this context, there should be no doubt for anyone that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country,” he had said before the invasion.

The Russian President had also put his nuclear forces on high alert. Hill says, looking back at what he said in the recent days, the nuclear option is very much on the table. 

While what Putin will do in the near future remains unclear, what the US and the West plan are more or less known. During the State of the Union address on Wednesday, President Biden said that Putin is now isolated more than ever. “The US Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs. We are joining with our European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We are coming for their ill-begotten gains,” he said. President Biden said that Putin has “no idea what’s coming”.

The war has only brought to the fore the deep and tumultuous divide between Russia and the West and US. The impact of this divide is already starting to show on the global economy. Most importantly, an analysis of Biden's State of the Union address shows that the US President barely mentioned China, while Russia was mentioned a whopping 18 times, which, as some experts have argued, only goes on to show how far the pre-existing world order has collapsed due to Putin's actions, with the US subtly shifting its focus from the Indo-Pacific to Russia, as it was during the heydays of the Cold War.

With a Western boycott and mounting global criticism, Putin now has mostly three choices -- to escalate the violence, to escalate the war not only against Ukraine but also NATO, or to bow down and walk away.  

(With inputs from Politico and ABC News)

Also read: State of the Union address: Putin now isolated more than ever, says Joe Biden 

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