The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

What Putin’s war in Ukraine reveals about Russia—and the likely path ahead

By Eliot A. Cohen

13 Dec 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

The invasion of Ukraine isn’t just about the ambitions of Putin. Rather, it’s about Russia’s “imperial self-conception,” argues an essayist in The Wall Street Journal.

On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine on multiple fronts, launching the most violent phase of a war to re-establish the Russian empire. It is a war that did not begin then, or even in 2014 when Russian forces occupied Crimea and pressed into the Donbas. Rather, the conflict began at least 20 years earlier, within years of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Russia began a number of campaigns to restore its former power.

In short, Russia’s attack on Ukraine is no normal power grab. And that is why so many experts have misunderstood it.

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