Putin’s ‘exit’ from war: Russian leader seeks to ‘leverage’ Ukraine – expert | World | News

Questions remain about Putin’s goals in Ukraine after his troops invaded the country on February 24. As the Kremlin strongman launched the bloody war, he said his country must “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine. In a bizarre and rambling speech, Putin addressed Ukrainian soldiers, telling them not to obey their government, which he called a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.

A few days before the war, the Russian leader also recognized the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

The self-proclaimed people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk are controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

By formally recognizing their independence, Putin was accused of tearing up the Minsk Accords.

Signed in 2014 and 2015, the agreements attempted to bring about ceasefires between the Ukrainian government and rebels in breakaway regions, as well as to reintegrate territories into Ukraine.

Some analysts have suggested that one of Putin’s goals in Ukraine is to install a puppet regime that will answer to Moscow.

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However, Professor Nikolai Petrov has suggested that Russian troops will not be able to stay in Ukraine permanently, as he explained Putin’s “exit” from the conflict.

The senior researcher in the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House has studied decision-making in the Kremlin.

The academic told Express.co.uk: “I think there is no way to keep the occupation going.

“There is no way to find serious forces inside Ukraine to play this role, as Putin managed to do in the case of Chechnya.

“So the solution for him is not to control the Ukrainian government.

He said: “This is exactly what he was looking for when planning the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

“The idea was not to get as much territory as possible, but to have leverage that could prevent Ukraine from moving west.”

At peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow in Turkey this week, Ukrainian negotiators said the country could drop its NATO bid and accept neutrality status.

Ukraine would accept neutrality provided it receives security guarantees from Western nations.

However, such an outcome would require a constitutional amendment or a referendum, which are unlikely in the context of the current conflict.

Professor Petrov claimed that rather than promises, Putin would like a concrete outcome from the invasion, such as an established military presence in Luhansk and Donetsk.

He said: “I think this time, unlike 2014 and 2015 when the Minsk agreements were negotiated, there should be something solid except for promises and agreements on paper.

“It can be some kind of military base, or bases on the territories of these people’s republics, or something like that. Not just a promise.