Putin decided to invade Ukraine in early 2021, media report says

25 April, 11:48 PM
Bakhmut after Russian shelling (Photo:REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva)

Bakhmut after Russian shelling (Photo:REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva)

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin decided to wage full-scale war against Ukraine at the end of February-March 2021, independent Russian media outlet Verstka reported on April 25. Journalists spoke with former and current officials in the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

According to the Verstka’s sources, Putin's personal grudge and desire for revenge were significant reasons for the war against Ukraine, with the Russian dictator's negative feelings towards Ukraine festering for many years.

As one of Putin's old acquaintances put it, Putin was "strongly incensed" by the "attack" on his personal friend and Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. For Putin, the existence of Medvedchuk and his Ukrainian television channels "was like a bridge and hope to somehow resolve the situation via political methods." According to the source, Medvedchuk himself also influenced Putin's decision, regularly telling him about his popularity and pro-Russian sentiments in Ukraine.

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"He told tales, spent that money paid to him for organizing political opposition, and did not believe that anyone would ever check him," a source close to the Kremlin said.

"He talked about (Ukrainian) loyalty (to Russia), effectively deceiving Putin."

Preparation for the invasion took almost a year, but the Kremlin entered the conflict with false assumptions and calculations, according to the report. Putin's friend, businessman Yuriy Kovalchuk, played a decisive role in persuading Putin that the time was optimal for a quick operation, arguing that Europe was paralyzed by internal divisions.

Another source close to the president's administration revealed that during the Valdai discussion club in October 2021, one of Russian security officials confirmed in private talks that Russia is seeking regime change in Ukraine. In December 2021, another source suggests, the question of how to divide Ukraine among large corporations was considered: Russian state or Kremlin-adjacent corporations would each assume responsibility for developing a Ukrainian region.

"Putin really believed that the regime in Kyiv could be changed quickly and painlessly," the article reads.

Many power brokers disagreed, but Russian "Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu did not object – he even rejoiced at Putin's decision."

"He (Shoigu) believed that Putin knew something he didn't, and actually thought it would be something not much more serious than the annexation of Crimea," said one of Putin's old friends. The rest of Russia’s elites were confronted with the reality of the invasion on the day it began.

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