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Edit:: The answers thus far show the political objectives, which are of course part of what I was asking, but what exactly are the military objectives of the invasion: like bomb certain buildings or places until Zelenskyy says like 'ok fine, you win. We'll talk' ? I mean, I don't see how for instance the invasion is going to (directly) ensure 'protection for the Russian language in Ukraine.'


Context: I could've sworn in war articles on Wikipedia, there was like a section on 'Objectives' either in the sidebar or in the main article. I must be remembering wrong because I can't find such in examples like WW2 and Iraq/2nd Gulf War. But anyway, I can always find the word 'objective' in the article. As for 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russo-Ukrainian War, I cannot quite find such a word 'objective'.

Question: What are Russia's stated objectives for their 2022 invasion of Ukraine? In other words, has Putin expressed what his specific end goals are? Does Putin want to kill Zelenskyy? Or make Zelenskyy surrender?

Note: I am asking about stated objectives (such as given in a speech or as part of marching orders) rather than speculation about "true" motives or hidden agendas.

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    Nobody knows what the true objectives are of Russia except for the Russian government itself. You can only ask for states objectives because that is something verifiable with sources. In this case one part of it were alleged Ukrainian Nazis, I believe. There might be already questions about it here. You can also ask what Russia might be able to gain from an invasion, but again that might be different from what their objectives were.
    – Trilarion
    Mar 25 at 8:51
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    @Trilarion Thanks. 'There might be already questions about it here. You can also ask what Russia might be able to gain from an invasion, but again that might be different from what their objectives were.' That's what I was wondering for this site as well. I tried looking up other posts, but I couldn't quite find something involving the word 'objective'. Or maybe the term 'objective' is wrong...like what has Putin said e wants to do or said about when the invasion ends? Like if Zelenskyy dies or surrenders? Of course we don't know if Putin is telling the truth, but at least what was said?
    – BCLC
    Mar 25 at 8:58
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    Do you mean the declared objectives (what Russia said) or the likely objectives (that is what they really want to achieve) or the current objectives (adjusted with the account for the developing military and political situations)? Mar 25 at 9:52
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    "...what has Putin said e wants to do or said about when the invasion ends?" Made an edit towards that. If that is not what you want, change it.
    – Trilarion
    Mar 25 at 10:16
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    @Trilarion Honestly I'm not really sure what I want. But thanks! My ideal situation is what I had in mind that I thought every war page on wikipedia would have. I guess like Putin's (declared) objectives for the invasion are so and so...
    – BCLC
    Mar 25 at 10:23

5 Answers 5

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We can only really go off what President Putin has articulated as the goal for launching their 'special military operation'. In his speech on February 24th, he stated that the objective of the invasion was to protect the self-declared republics of LPR & DPR, recognised by Russia as independent nations but internationally recognised as part of Ukraine. To achieve this, he said, Russia would seek to 'demilitarise' and 'denazify' Ukraine, as well as prosecute those in Ukraine it accuses of crimes against civilians.

In this context, in accordance with Article 51 (Chapter VII) of the UN Charter, with permission of Russia’s Federation Council, and in execution of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, ratified by the Federal Assembly on February 22, I made a decision to carry out a special military operation.

The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.

Furthermore, Putin laid out his demands for ending the invasion in a call with Turkey's President Erdogan on March 17th. According to the BBC, these are:

  1. Acceptance by Ukraine that it should be neutral and should not apply to join Nato.

  2. Undergo a disarmament process to ensure it isn't a threat to Russia.

  3. Protection for the Russian language in Ukraine.

  4. Undergo 'denazification'.

It's also not absolutely clear what is meant by 'denazification', although the BBC suggests that it might be enough for "Ukraine to condemn all forms of neo-Nazism and promise to clamp down on them".

In addition, BBC stated that there was also an assumption that Russia would demand that Ukraine accept Russia's annexation of Crimea, as well as give up the territory claimed by the DPR and LPR.

This was confirmed, and made explicit, a couple of days later by Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın in an interview with the Hürriyet newspaper (my translation):

The two most difficult issues are items 5 and 6. These are the matters of the status of Donbas and Crimea. The demands of the Russian side for the recognition of the annexation of Crimea and the two so-called republics in Donbas are not acceptable demands for Ukraine, nor the international community.

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    I think it's more than assumption regarding Crimea. Keeping in mind the Russian demands were made public by the Turkish presidential spokesman Kalin, he also "said Putin had additional demands that were “the most difficult issues” — the recognition of the annexation of Crimea and the two so-called republics in Donbas. Kalin said these final two issues “are not acceptable demands for Ukraine and the international community.”"
    – Fizz
    Mar 25 at 13:10
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    @Fizz yeah, seems it hadn't been spelt out by Kalin on the 17th, but he was more explicit later on
    – CDJB
    Mar 25 at 13:21
  • Wait I realised I forgot something. Ok so Putin wants those 4 bullet points showing political objectives but what exactly are the military objectives of the invasion: like bomb certain buildings or places until Zelenskyy says like 'ok fine, you win. We'll talk' ?
    – BCLC
    Mar 27 at 16:28
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+50

Regarding the conversation relayed by the Turkish presidential spokesman Kalin; there are actually 6 issues. Apparently Russia sees agreement on the 4 bullets listed in CDJB's answer as preconditions for discussing the final two points:

"The first is Ukraine's neutrality," Kalin said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet published Saturday, adding that would mean Ukraine agreeing to not become a NATO member. "Second, disarmament and mutual security guarantees in the context of the Austrian model. Third, the process that the Russian side refers to as 'de-Nazification.' Fourth, removing obstacles to the widespread use of Russian language in Ukraine. It is understood that some progress has been made in the first four articles of the ongoing negotiations. It is too early to say that there is full agreement or that an agreement is about to be signed."

Kalin said Putin had additional demands that were "the most difficult issues" -- the recognition of the annexation of Crimea and the two so-called republics in Donbas. Kalin said these final two issues "are not acceptable demands for Ukraine and the international community."

"If a point is reached in the first four articles and an agreement is reached, there can be a discussion at the leaders' level regarding the fifth and sixth articles," Kalin said in the interview, adding that if the negotiations take place, "it may be possible to reach an agreement and end the war."

I think people have interpreted that in various way, e.g. that Russia might be flexible on points 5 and 6... or that that it is what it really wants.

Earlier, on March 7, roughly the same list of demands had been issued by the Kremlin more directly (and without any "algorithm" for negotiations); notably this also included Crimea and the Donbass republics:

Russia has told Ukraine it is ready to halt military operations "in a moment" if Kyiv meets a list of conditions, the Kremlin spokesman said on Monday.

Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was demanding that Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory, and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states.

It was the most explicit Russian statement so far of the terms it wants to impose on Ukraine to halt what it calls its "special military operation" [...]


I'll add something that Putin only explained later in his speech on March 16: why attack Kyiv instead of just limiting operations to the Donbass:

I would like to emphasise this point and draw your attention to it: if our troops had acted only within the people's republics and helped them liberate their territory, it would not have been a final solution, it would not have led to peace and would not have ultimately removed the threat – to our country, this time to Russia. On the contrary, a new frontline would have been extended around Donbass and its borders, and shelling and provocations would have continued. In other words, this armed conflict would have continued indefinitely. It would have been fuelled by the revanchist hysteria of the Kiev regime, as NATO deployed its military infrastructure faster and more aggressively. In this case, we would have been faced with the fact that the attack, the offensive weapons of the alliance were already at our borders.

I will repeat – we had no alternative for self-defence, for ensuring Russia's security, to this special military operation. [...]

Also, this speech repeated the claim that Ukraine was preparing to acquire nuclear weapons; that had been raised earlier by other Russian officials, but Putin also included it in that speech:

Moreover, the Kiev authorities also announced their intention to have nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles. This was a real threat. With foreign technical support, the pro-Nazi Kiev regime would have obtained weapons of mass destruction in the foreseeable future and, of course, would have targeted them against Russia.

And something fairly similar about biological weapons:

[...] we have grounds to assume that components of biological weapons were being created in direct proximity to Russia on the territory of Ukraine.

Our numerous warnings that such developments posed a direct threat to the security of Russia were rejected with open and cynical arrogance by Ukraine and its US and NATO patrons.

In other words, all our diplomatic efforts were fully in vain. We have been left with no peaceful alternative to settle the problems that developed through no fault of ours. In this situation, we were forced to begin this special military operation.

It's not clear however what this means (if anything) in terms of concrete objectives, since the international community (e.g. UN representatives) said they don't know anything about those alleged programs (of either kind). So if Russia seemingly makes an objective in dismantling them as part of Ukraine's demilitarization, it's rather unclear what Ukraine would have to do to comply. I think no concrete details about what the demilitarization means in the Russian view have been made explicit, but this is the closest thing I've heard raised.


It's also worthwhile mentioning that the Kremlin not being incredibly clear about their objectives may have been part of their PR strategy, so e.g. that may claim victory on wider range of outcomes on the ground. No much later after I wrote the above, on March 25 news was that they they've declared to re-focus on the Donbass, which was now described as the "main goal":

In a scaled-back formulation of its war goals, Russia said on Friday that the first phase of its military operation was mostly complete and it would focus on completely "liberating" Ukraine's breakaway eastern Donbass region.

The announcement appeared to indicate that Moscow may be switching to more limited objectives after running into fierce Ukrainian resistance in a month of war.

The defence ministry said Russian-backed separatists now controlled 93% of Ukraine's Luhansk region and 54% of the Donetsk region. They jointly make up the Donbass.

"The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished," Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff's Main Operational Directorate, said in a speech.

"The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which ... makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass."

A senior diplomatic source in Moscow described it as a face-saving move and possible prelude to a climb-down by Russia. [...]

Rudskoi said Russia's military had considered confining its operation just to Donbass but opted for extending across Ukraine to damage its military infrastructure and tie down forces so as to prevent them reinforcing the east.

Russia did not rule out storming cities, he said, but as its military completed tasks "our forces and resources will be concentrated on the main thing - the complete liberation of Donbass."

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    Maybe summarize relevant parts of the quotes or emphasize relevant parts more. I'm not sure I understand what Putin is trying to say there.
    – Trilarion
    Mar 25 at 12:33
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    Thanks Fizz. I only skimmed the March 16 stuff though, hehe.
    – BCLC
    Mar 25 at 14:00
  • Wait I realised I forgot something. Ok so Putin wants those 4 bullet points and then March 16 stuff that I only skimmed showing political objectives but what exactly are the military objectives of the invasion: like bomb certain buildings or places until Zelenskyy says like 'ok fine, you win. We'll talk' ?
    – BCLC
    Mar 27 at 16:29
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    @BCLC: that appears to be it, although they've not been explicit along the lines of "will bomb you until you agree". But some wars were won like that in the past...
    – Fizz
    Mar 28 at 0:37
  • Ok that is so weird. but thanks. Also please consider editing into your answer.
    – BCLC
    Mar 28 at 17:39
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As an addition to the excellent, but slightly incomplete, and somewhat lacking all the necessary context, other answers here, here is my answer to the OP (to be expanded with references later).

The stated objectives of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, viewed in the context of the past and present are as follows:

[copy and paste from Putin's ultimatums and speeches Dec 2021 - present] 
... (listen to those and read them! too many to list here quickly) ...
[/copy and paste from Putin's ultimatums and speeches Dec 2021 - present] 
  • The stated view w.r.t. Ukraine, its sovereignty, ethnicity, culture and language was expressed the text by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Fall of 2021. Putin, writing in his official capacity of the leader of Russia, appears to deny Ukraine all of the above and consider Ukraine as an integral part of the Russian Federation plus the Russian sphere of influence (Belarus, Donbass, Osetia, Transnistria are other examples of such).
  • The current Ukrainian government is considered to be illegitimate, fascist/Nazi junta, the result of the military coup supported by the West. This includes, but is not limited to, the current President Zelensky, an ethnic Jew and a descendant of the Nazi Holocaust survivors.
  • The Russian and pro-Russian politicians and ex-politicians, such Medvedchuk or Yanukovich, are considered legitimate Ukrainian politicians and leaders, who are illegally prosecuted, deposed, and/or chased out of the country by explicit or implicit threats.
  • The Ukrainian attempts to have Ukrainian language as the #1 language in Ukraine (something similar to the efforts of the US to have English as the #1 state language in the US), and Ukrainian attempts to regain control of its own territory in Donbass and Crimea, are considered genocide of Russian people and citizens and a direct threat to the integrity of Russia itself. Crimea is considered by Putin as Russian territory, see "Krym nash!" ("Crimea is ours!") movement, and other sources. We all know that genocide must be opposed militarily and politically, and that every country has a right to protect its own citizens.
  • The slight differences between the stated objectives and the apparent objectives as evident from Russian actions on the ground in Ukraine are left as an exercise to the reader.

EDIT, April 23, 2022:

Military goals, adjusted:

The Russian military during the second phase of the special military operation, which has started this week, plans to establish complete control over Donbass and Southern Ukraine, enable a land bridge to Crimea, according to the acting commander of the army of the Central military region Rustam Minnekaev.

Interfax, April 22, 2022: https://www.interfax.ru/world/837353


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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – CDJB
    Mar 28 at 8:52
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    Timur Shtatland, please consider editing your answer to include the military objectives besides the political objectives re 'es, more or less, these are the mil objectives AFAIK'
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 14:33
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    @BCLC Added military goals published Apr 22, 2022. Apr 23 at 21:15
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    @BCLC It is hard for me to say with any degree of certainty whether Fizz's comments are correct or not. The Russian military goals have been shifting a lot, and Putin's government here and in other cases keeps many options open. Sorry, I cannot be more specific. The goals may be shifting again, depending of now successful the current Russian offensive is. Some Russian sources have floated the idea of a land grab all the way from Russia along the south of Ukraine all the way to Transnistria in Moldova. The Russian government has not officially stated that, though. Apr 26 at 14:17
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    Ok wow this is really weird. Maybe somehow I'm using the wrong terms or not asking the right questions. Well thanks anyway. Happy Easter.
    – BCLC
    Apr 26 at 15:06
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12 April 2022: Putin says Russia went to war to 1) protect people of the Donbas region and 2) ensuring the security of Russia, presumably against NATO expansion.

Putin said the main objective of Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine was to save people in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

"On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself," Putin said. "It's clear that we didn't have a choice. It was the right decision."

It seems probable to me that the goals have changed since the start of the invasion, but discerning what the original goals were would involve speculation.

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  • Thanks Allure! Of course I recognise your username from chess se. Good seeing you again. Your answer though seems like all the others to include the political but not quite the military objectives...like Putin's idea is bomb certain buildings or places until Zelenskyy says like 'ok fine, you win. We'll talk' ?
    – BCLC
    Apr 12 at 19:21
  • Added bounty...
    – BCLC
    Apr 17 at 4:39
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Idk about the Russian language stuff but Putin said the other demands to Maduro way earlier at the start of March here: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67885

Vladimir Putin shared his assessments of the developments around Ukraine and stressed that the goal of the special military operation was to protect civilians in Donbass, to ensure Kiev’s recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics as well as Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, and to secure its neutral and nuclear-free status.

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  • Added bounty...
    – BCLC
    Apr 17 at 4:39

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