Russian Vs Ukraine – A Strategic Miscalculation

The United States and its allies have made a huge commitment to Ukraine, providing $75 billion in military, economic, and humanitarian assistance. Together with our allies, we have also initiated the strongest sanctions ever imposed on Russia, immobilizing over half of its sovereign assets.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has failed to achieve any of its stated military goals, and it has cost Moscow significant casualties and substantial financial losses. Moreover, Russia’s strategy of trying to win by mobilizing collaborators from among the population has not succeeded. Instead, apolitical Ukrainians like Boiko have either fought back or denounced the invasion. Even apolitical Orthodox Christians, whom Moscow hoped would line up on its side, have largely ignored its appeals to support the separatist UOC-MP, and oligarchs like Medvedchuk have fled the country.

Despite the failure of Russia’s invasion to win broad acceptance within Ukraine, it is clear that Putin’s core calculation remains intact: that enough Ukrainians, particularly in eastern Ukraine, will be willing to accept reintegration into a Russian sphere of influence based on their cultural, linguistic, and religious ties. This calculation explains why Moscow inserted itself in Ukraine’s election politics, openly supported former president Yanukovych, and refused to admit that the official results showed an overwhelming victory for pro-Western opposition candidates.

The evidence of Russia’s strategic miscalculation is abundant. For example, Russia’s attempt to seize the strategically important southeastern port city of Mariupol in February 2023 ended up devolving into a months-long siege in which indiscriminate Russian attacks on civilian targets have produced heavy casualties, including a large number of children.