(Article by Vasko Kohlmayer republished from LewRockwell.com)
A case in point is a CNN piece titled “Restoration of Empire Is The Endgame For Russia’s Vladimir Putin” that ran in June of last year. In it we read:
“By summoning the memory of Peter the Great, it also becomes clear that Putin’s aims are driven by some sense of historical destiny. And Putin’s project of imperial restoration could – in theory – extend to other territories that once belonged to the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union, something that should raise alarms in all the countries that emerged from the collapse of the USSR.”
Such statements, however, are completely detached from reality, since the evidence plainly shows that Putin’s plan was never to conquer even the whole of Ukraine much less any of the surrounding countries.
This becomes obvious when we juxtapose Putin’s military approach to Ukraine with that of Israel in Gaza.
When Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he did so with some 190,000 troops.
As part of the Israeli government’s response to the October 7 attack by Hamas, it amassed 300,000 troops around the Gaza Strip in anticipation of a ground invasion.
To give a sense of proportion, the Gaza Strip is a narrow stretch of coastal land that is some 25 miles in length and 7.5 miles at its widest point. Its total area is 141 square miles populated by some 2.2 million people.
Ukraine, on the other hand, is one big country. It is, in fact, the second largest country in Europe (after Russia). It runs for 817 miles from west to east and 554 miles from north to south. Its area totals 233,032 square miles, and it has more than 42 million inhabitants.
Thus, the territory of Ukraine is more than 1600 times larger than that of the Gaza Strip and its population is nearly 20 times more numerous.
Just contemplate the implications of the facts on the ground: The Israelis gathered 50 percent more troops than Russia to invade a coastal strip whose population is five percent that of Ukraine and whose territory is less than one percent of Ukraine’s territory.
To put it another way, Israel mobilized far more troops for its invasion of the tiny Gaza Strip than Vladimir Putin had amassed for his alleged plan to conquer not only the second largest country on the continent but potentially also other European nations.
To place the Kremlin’s intrusion into Ukraine into further perspective, consider these numbers from various invasions of the past:
Germany’s 1941 invasion of France involved 3.3 million troops.
When Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939 it did so with more than 1.4 million troops.
During its invasion of Poland in 1920 the Soviets sent some 900,000 troops into the country.
In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with some 500,000 troops (at the time the population of Russia was roughly 25 million).
In 1945 the United States entered Germany with more than 1.5 million soldiers.
From the above we can see that Putin’s invasion force of less than 200,000 soldiers was very small by any measurable standard or comparison.
This should make it very obvious that Vladimir Putin had no plans to conquer the whole of Ukraine much less other lands.
If Putin wanted to really conquer Ukraine, he would have to go in with far greater numbers. As John Mearsheimer, one of the world’s leading foreign policy experts, stated in "a recent interview, “there’s no way that an army that had 190,000 troops (at the most) could have conquered all of Ukraine… it’s just impossible.”
According to Professor Mearsheimer, to conquer and occupy Ukraine, would require at least two million troops.
Any suggestion that Putin planned to overrun Ukraine and potentially other European states with less than 200,000 soldiers is completely detached from reality.
That number of soldiers would not even suffice to subdue the capital Kyiv which in itself is larger and more populous than the Gaza Strip.
Russia’s entry into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, was not an invasion whose objective was to conquer the country, but rather a limited tactical intrusion.
The question then becomes: If Putin did not intend to conquer Ukraine what was the purpose of the operation?
The primary reason was to bring the Zelensky government to the negotiating table. What Putin wanted was to obtain guarantees that Ukraine would not join NATO.
That this was his main reason was confirmed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who said that just weeks before the invasion Putin sent NATO in a draft treaty asking that Ukraine remain neutral. Putin indicated that if this security concern was met, he would not invade. This is how Stoltenberg explained it:
“The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition to not invade Ukraine. Of course, we didn’t sign that.”
Tellingly, the same point was made in a BBC piece that ran on February 26, 2022, just two days after the start of the invasion: “Russia says the crisis can only be solved if the West agrees to a list of demands, including a guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO.”
After having his legitimate security concerns haughtily dismissed by NATO, Putin felt that he had no choice but to force the issue directly with the Zelensky government.
His plan initially worked. Within a few weeks of the intrusion, Ukraine and Russia met at a negotiating table in Istanbul and a draft treaty was agreed on under the terms of which Ukraine would remain neutral.
The deal, however, was scuttled by the United States who instructed Zelensky to withdraw from the negotiations, and instead promised to supply whatever military assistance was necessary to defeat Russia.
The result has been a needless and disastrous war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and left Ukraine in ruins. And now – seeing the hopelessness of the situation – the US is slowly starting to urge Zelensky to return to the negotiating table.
Russia’s resistance to NATO’s encroachment has been the driving dynamic of the Ukrainian war. But our government does not want us to know this, because then it would have to accept its share of responsibility for that disaster, first but relentlessly pushing for NATO’s eastward expansion and then by aborting negotiations revolving around Kremlin’s legitimate security concerns.
This is the reason why they claim that Putin is a mad, power-crazed expansionist bent on conquering large chunks of Europe.
The evidence, however, clearly shows the absurdness of such claims.
Read more at: LewRockwell.com