Monday was Victory Day, a celebration of the Soviet triumph over Nazis in World War II, and this year, Putin used the occasion to justify what he referred to as a preemptive rebuff to NATO aggression. He claimed the Ukrainians are Nazis, that they were trying to get nukes, and that NATO and Ukraine were going to take Crimea back — all of which was made up. For Ian Bremmer, the negative takeaway was that Putin didn’t say Russia had won or that Ukraine had been denazified, which (while untrue) could’ve been the basis for a frozen conflict, or even negotiations on a ceasefire. One positive? The UK had expected Russia to announce a general mobilization, but Putin didn’t do that, and he did not declare war against NATO.
By referring to the Donbas as Russian territory, Putin made it clear that his intention is to either fully recognize the expanded Donbas as independent, or to formally annex it. But there may be broader territorial goals, too. Watch Ian’s Quick Take for more on that.
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