Most Western accounts and analyses suggest that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began in late February has since stalled out well short of the likely goals set by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in part due to fierce Ukrainian resistance but also because of apparent Russian military failures and incompetence.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently expressed his belief that Putin remained “convinced” that the ongoing operations in Russia’s European neighbor to the south were still “going according to plan,” Business Insider reported.
If true, that would seem to suggest one of two things — either Putin is shockingly out of touch with the reality on the ground in Ukraine, or that nobody knows exactly what Putin’s “plan” for the conflict and its eventual outcome is.
Zelensky open to negotiations
That assertion from Zelensky came during a recent interview with German media outlet BILD, in which the Ukrainian president said of his Russian counterpart Putin, “I think he is convinced that his ‘special operation’ is going according to plan.”
“I think he has more plans to fire rockets on Ukraine. He is not really interested in the real process of this war,” Zelensky continued.
He went on to suggest that, should he be offered the chance to meet and negotiate directly with Putin, he would accept that opportunity. In recent weeks, Zelensky has signaled an openness to a negotiated deal that would see Ukraine adopt a “neutral status” between Russia and the West, provided there were security guarantees in place to prevent a future invasion of his homeland.
Zelensky told BILD, “We were attacked from Russia and Belarus, and when our delegation was in Turkey, I already said this: When we are offered negotiations, we will take that chance.”
The idea of Ukrainian neutrality was put forward to possibly end the war
Insider noted that Zelensky had hinted at similar sentiments about a week ago in a Fox News interview in which he had, on the one hand, expressed gratitude for the sizeable aid Ukraine had received from Western governments while, on the other hand, was also critical of certain “games” being played and foot-dragging from some nations in providing additional necessary military assistance.
He had also floated then the idea of Ukraine taking a “neutral status” going forward as a way to end the conflict but, at the same time, insisted that anything short of an apparent “victory” over the invading Russian forces would be deemed as unacceptable to the Ukrainian people.
But exactly what that “victory” for Ukraine might look like is anybody’s guess, as are Putin’s actual plans with regard to the ongoing invasion, which was the subject of a mid-March op-ed by Washington Post columnist Charles Lane in response to prior claims from Putin himself that everything was going according to plan.
Does anybody know what Putin’s “plan” really is?
The crux of Lane’s argument was that while the West was focused solely on what was occurring within Ukraine’s borders, Putin’s actual plans were likely much broader than mere territorial gains in the former Soviet republic and, instead, were oriented toward disrupting the current U.S.-led world order and weakening Western alliances like NATO and the European Union.
If that is indeed the case, and given the fact that Western anti-Russia sanctions have proven economically detrimental to many Western nations along with Russia and have spurred an obvious realignment of certain major regional powers — like India — then Putin’s long-term plans may well be moving along in a satisfactory manner for the Russian leader.