An important Russian general who last week received promotion from Russian President Vladimir Putin sees the invasion of Ukraine as merely a “stepping stone” to escalating tensions with Europe.
In February 2022, Putin began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which led many observers to worry that the Kremlin might have more ambitious goals than simply gaining control of its former Soviet neighbor.
Throughout the war, anti-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) rhetoric from Russian media and parliamentarians has frequently heightened those worries by repeatedly advocating direct attacks on European and even US targets.
Putin elevated Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev to Colonel-General status this past week. The military commander was already in charge of the Russian Central Grouping of Troops in Ukraine and the Central Military District.
Mordvichev stated in a recent interview with Moscow’s state-run Russia-1, which was excerpted and widely shared on social media on Saturday, that he thinks Putin’s war would continue for a while and continue to grow.
Putin outlined a plan to reassemble the former Russian Empire’s lands into a single bloc before invading Ukraine. The Russian president and his associates have stated time and time again that they do not consider Ukraine to be an independent country, but rather that it should be brought back under the rule of Moscow.
A Threat to Eastern Europe?
Putin’s associates have frequently raised the prospect of extending the Kremlin’s assault into NATO territories, including Poland and a number of other Eastern European countries.
The vision of the Russian president and calls to broaden the conflict from his various partners have been cited by analysts as concerning indications that Moscow may extend its military operations beyond Ukraine.
The goal of NATO’s military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, according to its leaders, is to stop Putin from moving his forces further west into Europe. Because their leaders worry that their borders could be the next to be contested by Putin’s soldiers, Eastern European countries like Poland have been among Ukraine’s strongest advocates.
Russian officials assert that their invasion of Ukraine was defensive in nature and done so to halt NATO’s growth and to defend Russian speakers living there from “genocide.” They assert that Ukraine is too supportive and that the government in Kiev is run by Nazis.
Many people find the Nazi accusation to be particularly strange. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and fluent in Russian. As he spoke Ukrainian during his 2019 election campaign, he drew flak for his accent.