Former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an “absolute disaster” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Herbst said Newsweek when asked if he agreed with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s assessment that Russia has failed to achieve its key objectives in Ukraine.
Sullivan told a news conference on Tuesday that Russia had “demonstrably failed” in achieving its three main objectives during Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. These goals subjugate Ukraine, bolster Russia’s power and prestige, divide and weaken the West, Sullivan told reporters.
“Putin aimed to dominate Ukraine on the one hand, and on the other he wanted to keep open his plans to weaken the West, including establishing substantial Russian control over all states of the former Soviet Union. , which includes three NATO allies, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,” said Herbst, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006.
Putin declared his intentions in a televised address just before the launch of his “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24.
“He said in his speech just before launching this new invasion that he wanted to have a major influence in the whole post-Soviet space. This includes all the countries that emerged from the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago. years. So it’s no secret,” Herst said.
The Russian leader has previously claimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”.
“It was evident within three or four days of this new invasion, that his [Putin’s] second objectives relating to the West, relating to the other former Soviet states, had perhaps suffered a fatal setback, due to the very strong response of a united West, to the Russian invasion,” Herbst explained.
“This very strong response includes massive sanctions. This includes large arms deliveries to Ukraine, this includes the end of most, if not all, Russian soft power in the West, because Germany, in particular, changed a rather soft policy towards Moscow,” says Herbst.
The former ambassador was referring to Germany’s longstanding Russian policy, which has focused on rapprochement rather than confrontation.
“It’s now pretty much over,” Herbst said.
“So it was true within three or four days of the invasion. And then over the last couple of weeks, it’s become clear that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has stalled,” Herbst continued. “So there too, Putin is at this stage unable to achieve his goals in Ukraine.”
Western intelligence updates have pointed out that more than a month after Putin launched his full-scale invasion, Russian forces appear to be facing supply and morale issues, while Ukrainian troops continue to put up fierce resistance.
Ukraine’s successful counterattacks are likely to “disrupt the ability of Russian forces to reorganize and resume their own offensive towards kyiv”, the British Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday.
Russian forces are “essentially frozen around the country on multiple axis lines, struggling to resupply, feed their troops and provide them with arms and ammunition”, a senior US defense official told reporters on March 17. .
“It was an absolute disaster for Putin,” Herbst said.
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