What is Russia’s Near Term Objective in Ukraine?

Impact of transition on public health in Ukraine: case ...

Watching the unfolding Russian offensive in Ukraine and the cities/regions they are targeting here is what I see as their short-term military objective–take control of the Dnieper River and secure the eastern half (the Russian speaking half) of Ukraine. There are ten key areas (going from south to north):

  8. KANIV
  9. KIEV


If all of these river crossings are seized and the Ukrainian Army is still east of the Dnieper that will be the end of the Ukrainian Army. The Russians will not have to engage in bloody battles to render them inert. With their lines of communication severed it will only be a matter of time before they have to surrender. Looks like the Russians learned some lessons from what the Nazis did to the Soviet Army when it tried to hold Kiev.

So far the Russians have secured Chenobyl in the north and are surrounding Kiev. In the south, Russia has secured the mouth of the Dnieper around Odessa, Kherson and Kakhovka. They also are likely to secure Zaporizhzhia within the next two days.

Kakhovka is the location of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, which the Russians appear to have captured tonight. The breathless media reports screaming that the Russians were attacking the nuclear plant with the implication that they were putting the reactors in jeopardy appear to be hype. The video of the action indicates that Admin building was attacked and on fire. While there is always the possibility that a stray round could hit one of the reactors, I believe the Russians are cognizant of that risk and taking the necessary precautions to avoid creating a new Chenobyl disaster.

Russia says it controls land by biggest Ukraine atomic ...
Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant

If Russia succeeds in securing the Dnieper River as its western “wall” it will have control of the Russian speaking Ukrainians that inhabit the eastern part of Ukraine.

While Ukraine continues to insist that Russia is bogged down, consider this–in one week Russia has secured territory inside Ukraine equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom (thanks to Patrick Armstrong for that factoid).

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36 Responses to What is Russia’s Near Term Objective in Ukraine?

  1. Shako says:

    Russian speaking does not mean Russian leaning. It is a fallacy to believe that “Russian speaking” connotes loyalty, fealty or consanguinity with Muscovy.

    • Larry Johnson says:

      I made no such claim. Just stating a fact.

      • Suvorov says:

        Dispassionate analysis is always welcome. It seems that emotions are leading the old Cold Warriors to support the same factions that have been derided for years. As if Pres Ze and his Azov Brigades are now some kind of media darlings. The Slavic states are anything but John Wayne movies.

      • Tom67 says:

        The leaning of the Ukrainian population is very hard to gauge. Since 2014 anybody with leanings towards Russia knew better than to openly state their believes. But from looking at pre 2014 election maps and from having talked in depth to a few people from Ukraine, while travelling in Russia (I am fluent in Russian) I would say that
        a. the legitimacy of the current government is certainly higher than the 2014 coup one
        b. there isn´t much love in the East for the Neonazi batailons
        c. regime change a´la Putin will not be popular among the majority outside of the Donbass.
        I believe that Putin made a huge gamble that will backfire. He is underestimating the patriotism of Ukrainians. Finally he will need to find a new goverment and then he will be confronted with the infamous fractiousness of Ukraine. It took the FSB several years and dozens of assasinations until the separatists in the Donbass where more or less under control. Try to repeat that in a territory as big as Ukraine.
        As to the West and especially Europe: they will also get into big, bad trouble. The woke European elites will have their comeuppance. It was madness never to take into account legitimate Russian concerns.

      • jim ticehurst says:

        Larry..The Above Mas Are Useful..I Study Them Alot..

        My Take is …That Red Circle Around Kyev is 3/4 Complete
        complete Securing The East Side of Ukraine..down to
        The Gulf of Azoz..For Security,,and..Control Of The Black Sea
        ,,and on the EAST Rim…

        I Now Believe That The Rim on the West side Will Close.
        .That RED LINE..From Kyev,,Down to Odessa..Putins Military
        has Been Hitting Several Targets,,Too SECURE That
        OBJECTIVE,,For Several Days,,

        I Am 80 Percent Convinced..That 40 Mile Armored Column WILL Roll at Daylight To Complete ALL FINAL OBJECTIVES.

        All Criticism Of Russia Aside,,This Has Been a Ten Day War..
        and Russia..Has Done It without Air Cover..

        Its Been Ruthless Barbaric.
        Ghengis Kahn In Scope and Style ..

        Kyev Has Always Been Putins Laser Focus…For Revenge

        The Rest is just A Matter To Control ALL of Eastern Ukraine
        North To South..And Block ALL Access In or Out Of POLAND

        Like Berlin..

    • Harry says:


    • Mark A Wauck says:

      “Russian speaking” happens to also track the results of the 2014 election as well as religious affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate. The linguistic and religious divisions also track the historical divisions of the Ukrainian lands. While populations are mixed throughout Ukraine the lines of likely division are very clear–many excellent maps illustrate this.

  2. Tom Hickey says:

    Andrei Martyanov, former USSR naval officer, on Russia’s objectives affirms this about the short term and also talks about the long term. 22 min video.


  3. Deap says:

    Local writer who calls himself The Investigator (Robert Eringer) claims prior work in intelligences services which allows him to make strong predictions on Feb 20, 2022 about the ultimate fate of Putin, should Putin actually invade Ukraine.

    The writer charges Putin already has the goods on the Biden crime family and dear son Hunter to use as leverage against Biden should things to badly – and perhaps explains why Biden is sending his trusty surrogate VP Harris to go knock heads face to face in Bucharest instead of showing up himself (questionable capacity anyway) ?

    This writer especially relishes the besmirched reputations the ultra high-living Russian oligarchs will now face, no longer welcome in polite company in the global salons due to Putin’s now twice manifested megalomania.


    I thought when I read this on Feb 20, the writer was blowing self-important smoke. Now I am forced to reconsider upon re-reading this March 3.

    • Patrick Armstrong says:

      Bonaparte was convinced the nobles would force Alexander to the table.

      • Deap says:

        Reminding me of Barbara Tuchman’s book “The March of Folly” — a study of government policy pursuits contrary to their own self-interests.


        I learned watching government in action from my own limited perspective, when one wants B, one needs to undertake A to B in a direct route, and not undertake C in hopes of getting from A to B.

    • Michael Droy says:

      Every one has the goods on the Biden family.
      I know enough to put him in prison if I could get a prosecutor to handle it. That is just off the internet.
      The MIC and loads of others have been using it for decades.
      Ditto Peloisi.
      Rosatom (Russia) bought Uranium One and the seller gave the Hillary and Bill foundation about $130mn out of his sale price because Hillary signed off the deal as Secretary of State.

      The problem is not the corruption of some Dem Leaders – the problem is that they have corrupted the whole system all the way down.
      That is why the Jan 6th visitors are in prison not Peloisi.

  4. Babeltuap says:

    The going after oligarchs is a refreshing move. If they don’t do the Ukrainian ones though it’s futile. Go bag Kolomoisky kicking it in Switzerland and we might be getting somewhere but that ain’t never gonna happen.

    • Mal says:

      If the Russians learned from the Germans how to fight and win battles, what happens when their teams modeled on Mossad head off to foreign locals for a little RnR. Oligarch better learn to fly, it may come in handy when tossed from a skyscraper.

      Cheers Mal

    • Eric Newhill says:

      By what law are the assets and toys of “the oligarchs” being seized? Is there even a legal theory? Any kind of theory? How can a wealthy dude’s watch just be seized? No trial, nothing. Isn’t that pure piracy?

      Who gets to keep all of the seized bounty?

      Can our own oligarchs’ stuff be summarily seized if someone they know does something people with guns don’t like? Can we take the Bush family’s homes and bank accounts because of the Iraq invasion? Can we take Zuckerberg’s goodies because the finances he provided for “get out the vote” were used for illegal voting activities? How about Bezos’ wealth? Is at at risk because Amazon is used for some illegal transactions? How about Saudis? The list is long.

      • Mal says:

        If we go by documented history Eric, they get rounded up and put internment camps. Happens during war all the time. After the war, those that survive the camp, are left destitute, the State having confiscated all their property and money. If Trudeau had gotten his EPA he and Freeland would be rounding up Canadian Russians as we speak. Guess that’ll require some act of vanity on Parliament’s part. Those interned, are never ever compensated. A politician will cry a tear of contrition years later and all is swell.
        With that in mind and world travel what it was, should a major world war be about to break out, that’s a lot of foreign nationals to inter. Hmmm……how would you get them to all go home before the war started……

        Cheers Mal

      • cobo says:

        I think the short answer would be, yes.

    • Leith says:

      Kolomoisky was sanctioned last year or the year before. Is he in Switzerland now or Israel?

      • Eric Newhill says:

        Yacht, not watch (damn hyperactive spell check)

        Assuming the story is true (big assumption these days) Igor Sechin’s yacht was seized and Biden is talking big about implementing more piracy. Collective punishment inflicted on all Russians? Under what law?

  5. Condottiere says:

    Now I see it.

    Russian objective is a treaty establishing the Dnieper River as the new Ukrainian- Russian boundary and allow Ukraine to join NATO. The river is more westward defensible boundary with two strategic oblasts (Kaliningrad and Transnistria) on the outer coasts of Russian influence. Russia can give the land to the Donbas or their two recognized republics, creating a bumper state(s) between NATO. If the shit hits the fan later, Russia will blitz the Suwalki gap and new Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi gap to cut off the Baltics and canalize NATO in the south with the Carpathian Mountains.

    • JohninMK says:

      Interestingly there is no legal backing to the decades long operational border between Ukraine/Russia. At the time to ratify the current boundary in 2019 the Ukrainians didn’t.

  6. Christian J. Chuba says:

    At the risk of projecting instead of analyzing (my version of it at least), I hope the Russians do not plan on capturing Kyiv and this explains the slow movement in the north. Blocking the east / west roads makes sense. That minimizes re-supplying the armies in the east from. Storming Kyiv does not make sense. Leaving Kyiv alone allows ‘Z’ elensky be the hero of Kyiv. It gives him an honorable way to end the war.

    I hope Russia doesn’t actually want to replace the current govt. When has replacing a govt with military force actually worked? The U.S. tried and failed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. HW Bush did okay in Panama. Replacing ‘Z’ with a ‘Y’ will give them an insurgency even if the U.S. does not support it (of course we will). A ‘Y’ President will have no credibility.

    I see nothing but bad things in trying to storm Kyiv. Cutting off the force in Donbas, yeah, good idea.

  7. Stevelancs says:

    From the blogs I read, the Russian army is advancing slowly so as to cause the least damage. Where the Ukrainian army has been surrounded and has surrendered, it has been offered the option of disarming and going home, or joining Russian forces to weed out the western-sponsored nazis. Ukrainian Army forces have joined the Russians.
    Western observers think that Russia is losing because it hasn’t adopted the “shock and awe” destructive western military modus operandi. The reverse is true, but time will tell.

  8. Adams says:

    Another near-term objective seems to be Pervomaisk, north-east of Kherson. A long salient is pointed directly at it. In Soviet times it was the site of an SRF division of five regiments: about 50 ICBM silos. The Ukrainians retained about half their SS-19’s (selling the other half to Russia), some which they used until 2016 for commercial satellite launches. They’ve threatened from time to time to “make Moscow burn” or “destroy Moscow: this is where the destruction would start from. Acquiring sufficient U-235 or Plutonium and engineering fission bombs like Hiroshima’s might be beyond them, but dirty-bomb warheads should easy. Also, there are rumors of left-behind suitcase-nukes here and there, which only need a Polonium trigger to activate.

    • Leith says:

      Those ballistic missile silos in Pervomaisk were destroyed 25 years ago after they were emptied. Putin knows that. So does SRF CinC Karakaev. But maybe Bortnikov is lying to him about it so as to get him chasing his tail.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        Symbolism. You talk about going nuclear on me and I will raze any structure or asset that has anything to do with nuclear. You will learn your lesson. I will not tolerate even the mere mention of such a possibility.

        • Leith says:

          Eric –

          It is only Putin who has hinted about going nuclear. I doubt we will teach him a lesson or even try. His 6000 thermonuclear warheads guarantee that.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Nonsense and you know it. Z talked about it openly and the US did not admonish him, as it would have just about anyone else running a corrupt flunky country. Iran comes to mind as an obvious example, but it really applies to any country that doesn’t currently have nukes and seeks them.

            BTW – I think you are “Mike” from milpub, that Bernie Sanders style, radical leftist, oddball veterans’ blog that went defunct a while ago. In which case, you are a hardcore, far left, democrat ideologue as were most all the guys there. Ironic that you have become a Borg head since your guys are in federal office now. Party first, I guess.

          • Leith says:

            Hi Eric –

            Actually Eric, I used to be a long term Republican. I registered that way in Onslow County NC in 1964 and got told by a clerk that only j1gab00s voted Republican and I should watch my back. That was way before Nixon’s Dixiecrat strategy turned the South. I voted for Goldwater all the way up until the wingnuts like Rush Limbaugh and his dittoheads started trashing the party and chased out us moderates.

            Z did not talk about threatening people with nukes either openly ; or covertly like Putin did.

    • elkern says:

      I think the column heading NW from Kherson is headed for the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, near Yuzhnoukrainsk. I suspect that Russia believes that Ukraine is/was aiming to develop nuclear weapons, as an alternative to depending on NATO. If Russia finds clear evidence that Ukraine is enriching uranium beyond power-plant concentrations to/toward bomb-grade, it will be a game-changer.

  9. Deap says:

    Photo-shopping the bathos of present Ukraine with prior stock images?


  10. Pundita says:

    Larry, thank you for this post and the one on the Azov Battalion. SouthFront reported today:


    Russian patience, persistence and knowledge of the true situation in Ukraine is starting to pay off. The Ukranian military that is not nazified has been asking for a miracle. They are now seeing the Russians are giving them their miracle.

    • JohninMK says:

      At an Azov checkpoint they stupidly killed the local Ukrainian Army 2* generating for themselves the ‘gift’ of a Tochka onto their HQ. If there was much before there is no love lost between the two now.

      Azov in Mariupol are now in a fight to the death, given that following their excesses in Donbas since 2014 they expect no mercy from the Russians. As such they are prepared to take as many locals (including 100,000+ Greek descendants), that they use as much as possible as human shields, with them.

      We should, sadly, expect a repeat in Odessa where Zelensky replaced its Governor a couple of days ago with a hardline ex Aidar commander.

      The public announcement by the Russians today of a 6 hour ceasefire is in part an attempt to show who, if any, are trying to stop civilians from leaving their areas down the protected corridors.

  11. jim ticehurst says:

    Sir..I Was Wondeering What Hapened To the Comments I Made About Larrys Maps
    Displayed Here..And What They Reresented to Me and What I thought The 40 mile Con voy Might Do..when it does Advance,,I thought Its So Long Because It has t extend from
    Kyev Down r to Odessa and close that Red Circle..

    I Sent it late evening after 11.PM your time thanks

    • Pat Lang says:

      No idea

    • JohninMK says:

      jim, there looks to be another convoy being created in Crimea ready to head north or west one assumes. We seem to be moving to the phase where the main forces of the RuA are to be deployed.

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