Home / World News / Opinion | What Is Putin Really After in Ukraine?

Opinion | What Is Putin Really After in Ukraine?

To the Editor:

Re “What if Putin Didn’t Miscalculate?” (column, March 30):

The alternative scenario offered by Bret Stephens, whereby Vladimir Putin is playing a high-stakes game for more modest gains, is not only entirely plausible, it also has most of the facts on its side.

Russia’s invasion force of 150,000 to 190,000 troops was never going to be enough to conquer and quell all of Ukraine, a country twice as large as Italy. But it was likely enough to seize much of eastern and southern Ukraine and rain terror and death upon all of its major cities — including the capital, Kyiv — until the government was forced into a favorable negotiated settlement.

Such a settlement, which would likely incorporate Crimea (which Mr. Putin seized in 2014) and much of energy-rich eastern Ukraine into Russia, would fulfill Mr. Putin’s goal of a land bridge to Crimea and an expanded Black Sea fleet to connect with Russia’s growing naval presence in the Middle East.

The West, and the Biden administration, may try to sell this as a “victory” for Ukraine and the West, for preventing the total loss of Ukraine. But unless the Ukrainian freedom fighters are significantly able to turn the tide — or the world is able to sustain punishment against Russia for its many heinous violations against Ukraine — Vladimir Putin may very well come out ahead.

Stuart Gottlieb
New York
The writer teaches American foreign policy and international security at Columbia University.

To the Editor:

Bret Stephens makes a good point in “What if Putin Didn’t Miscalculate?” He posits that the conflict is really an energy war and that Russia stands to come out of it with even more oil and gas reserves than at present.

But all those fossil fuels are worthless to Vladimir Putin and Russia if there are no markets. Europe should announce immediately that it is decoupling from Russian gas, giving a five-year window in which to find other sources of energy. And it should use that period to build out renewable power and thus meet international targets in 2030 for progress in decarbonizing the economy because of the climate threat.

Europeans will end up with less expensive energy and progress in alleviating global warming. And Mr. Putin’s oil and gas reserves will be as worthless as the proverbial buggy whip.

Stephen R. Dujack
Charlottesville, Va.

To the Editor:

The dominant narrative is that Vladimir Putin badly miscalculated on his forces’ ability to quickly take Ukraine, that he is unhappy and dismayed by the West’s unity and economic divestiture, and that he might be crazy now. Bret Stephens suggests that we might be underestimating his intentions, and that he was really after Ukraine’s energy resources and coastline and that he might be crazy like a fox.

It seems obvious that Mr. Putin thought Russia could fairly easily take Ukraine, all of it, for energy resource reasons but also many other advantages he thought he would gain. It has not been easy or even possible so far. In that he did miscalculate. But I think his fallback position on land, sea and resource acquisition is, as Mr. Stephens suggests, not catastrophic from his perspective.

Where I think that the West has perhaps badly miscalculated is in believing that Mr. Putin is unhappy for Russia to be cut off from the rest of the world. Based on repeated remarks he has made before and after the invasion of Ukraine, he seems to feel that the influence of the West is a contagion on his people and their culture.

Isn’t it just possible that he wanted another Cold War, in which he completely controls his people and their access to information, eliminates dissent and burnishes Russia’s reputation as a great threatening force in the world? We may have helped him achieve objectives we didn’t realize he had.

Because Western countries, like most peoples of the world, organize their priorities around peace and prosperity, it can be hard to imagine a worldview in which peace and prosperity are not the priorities. The fact that Mr. Putin is not bound by those motivations is an advantage for him. We should keep that in mind.

Wendy Shapiro
Mill Valley, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “How 2 Friends Birthed Union Inside Amazon” (front page, April 3):

The victory last week for workers to have a union at the Staten Island Amazon fulfillment center should be a helpful wake-up call for labor. The Amazon workers voted to have better wages and a direct voice in decision-making to improve their safety and overall work conditions. They decided they needed to form their own union to achieve these outcomes.

At Starbucks stores, members are also demanding a direct voice in decision-making about how their workplaces are run rather than leave these decisions solely in the hands of management.

An important lesson for unions, from these recent organizing drives, is that to win, they need to find ways to provide today’s workers a voice in decision-making as well as fight for better wages and benefits. Making this happen can help rebuild the labor movement.

Peter Lazes
West Stockbridge, Mass.
The writer is a visiting professor at the School of Labor and Employment Relations, Penn State.

To the Editor:

Re “The Exploitation of Judge Jackson,” by Emily Bazelon (Opinion guest essay, March 31):

While I was appalled by the vicious and despicable questioning of a female judge by male Republican senators, I do believe that our justice system is in need of an overhaul with regard to sentencing guidelines for sex offenders.

I am a therapist who has provided therapy and counseling to many sex offenders, including very young juvenile sex offenders. What I learned from my practice and the research in the field is that sexual offenses have very little to do with sex per se and a lot to do with power and control.

Sentencing guidelines do not take this into consideration when they slam a prison door shut thinking that justice was served for society and for the victims. Not so! Unless treatment is offered and mandated, these people will offend again and again once their sentence is served — long or short, it doesn’t matter!

Recovery from sexual addiction is a lifelong endeavor, just like recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction. Unless the justice system understands and addresses this, no sentencing practices are going to be sufficient.

Manuela Bonnet-Buxton
Cornelius, Ore.

About brandsauthority

Check Also

UK 'might face three-hour winter power cuts'

The United Kingdom’s National Grid has warned that there could be planned power cuts in …

%d bloggers like this: