Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine nearly eight months ago. Much has changed since then.
Ukraine has shown itself to be a much more robust military force than most analysts and experts could have predicted. The rhetoric around the ongoing conflict has shifted from wondering how long Ukraine could hold out for, to how much territory the country can take back from its invaders.
And it has shifted again to when, and how, the war could end.
One of the most renowned Russian analysts in the U.S., Fiona Hill, weighed in with Politico on the war and Putin’s endgame. Hill served as an adviser to former president Donald Trump and was made infamous for her testimony during his first impeachment trial.
Back in February when Putin first invaded Ukraine, Hill warned that Putin was not only trying to seize Ukraine but destroy the current world order. She has always warned that Putin would use the threat of nuclear conflict to attempt to get his way.
While Russia has suffered on the battlefield, Hill believes Putin is undaunted despite this. Putin is not giving up, she has warned, and instead, she sees the Russian leader attempting to get the West to accede to his aims by using rogue messengers.
This includes billionaire Elon Musk, who reportedly was used by Putin to propose arrangements that could end the war on his terms.
“Putin plays the egos of big men, gives them a sense that they can play a role. But in reality, they’re just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin,” Hill said.
Putin appears to be doubling down on his war in Ukraine, but the conflict does pose massive dangers to his craps on leadership in Russia. His identity is closely linked now with the Ukraine war, as well as with his outcome. Hill said Putin cannot afford to look like a loser.
The world, including the U.S., still has not completely and fully grasped the challenge Putin is posing, Hill warned, saying that Putin must be contained. However, that won’t happen unless and until international institutions established in the wake of World War II evolve so they can contain him.
“This is a great power conflict, the third great power conflict in the European space in a little over a century,” Hill said. “It’s the end of the existing world order. Our world is not going to be the same as it was before.”