Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Nobody Actually Knows What Russia Does Next

April 02, 2024
Stephen M. Walt

This is a summary of an article originally published by Foreign Policy under the title "Nobody Actually Knows What Russia Does Next."

The author writes:

  • The fact that Putin is a ruthless dictator who imprisons or murders his domestic rivals and
    engages in other despicable acts tells us almost nothing about whether he wants to conquer a
    bunch of Russia’s neighbors or believes he would be able to do so.
  • Russia will be in no shape to launch new wars of aggression when the war in Ukraine is
    finally over. U.S. intelligence believes Russia has lost more than 300,000 troops killed or
    wounded in Ukraine, along with thousands of armored vehicles and dozens of ships and
  • If the main reason that Putin decided to invade was to prevent Ukraine from moving into the
    West’s orbit and someday joining NATO, then he might be satisfied if that possibility is
    foreclosed in a subsequent peace agreement.
    o If you believe Putin invaded primarily because he thinks Russians and
    Ukrainians are “one people,” then you might reasonably conclude his ambitions
    are limited to that one unique case.
  • Lastly, the claim that Putin is an unappeasable serial aggressor who will launch new wars if
    he is not totally defeated impedes efforts to end the war and spare Ukraine further damage.

Read the full article on Foreign Policy website.


Stephen M. Walt

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. Photo by US Department of State shared under a United States government work licence.