Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

In Ukraine, Putin Has Already Lost

| Feb. 18, 2022

Even if he successfully attacks Ukraine and occupies territory, Putin will not have moved one step closer to achieving his stated “core demands.”

Vladimir Putin has lost; he will not achieve any of his core demands vis-à-vis the United States or NATO. Now he must decide whether he is a bully or a bluffer.

Putin made several demands in the initial “security guarantee proposals” he sent to the United States and NATO in December 2021. The proposals, written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff responsible for these “official documents,” were perhaps done in haste to meet a timeline that was short and hurried.

On February 1, 2022, at a news conference during Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s visit to Moscow, Putin clarified his three core demands for the West: “prevention of NATO’s expansion; commitment not to deploy offensive weapon systems near Russian borders; return of [NATO] Bloc’s European military infrastructure to 1997 levels when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.”

In classified notes that were later leaked to news media, the United States and NATO responded to these demands by refusing to limit NATO from any enlargement or expansion. They made clear that the West will not return to the situation that existed in 1997, before even Poland or the Baltic states were members of NATO. In response to Russia’s aggressive posturing along Ukraine’s border, the United States and NATO have actually increased the number of troops in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics, all of which border Russia or the Black Sea. Selected NATO countries have continued to ship more weapons to Ukraine.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Ryan, Kevin.“In Ukraine, Putin Has Already Lost.” The National Interest, February 18, 2022.