Why is Russia invading Ukraine?


The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a fact. Marco Nilsson, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor of Political Science at the School of Education and Communication, answers questions about the Ukraine conflict.

Ukrainsk flagga vajar i solnedgång

Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash

What is the cause of the Ukraine conflict?

There are several reasons for the conflict. But a lot depends on Putin's view of world politics. He sees the collapse of the Soviet Union as a major geostrategic disaster that robbed Russia of its great power status. For several years Putin has been rearming the Russian military to be more active in world politics and to be respected as a great power. The eastward expansion of NATO in Europe has thwarted these ambitions. Ukraine was an appropriate target for Russia's military action because Putin regards Ukraine as a historical part of Russia. Moreover, Ukraine has expressed a desire to join NATO.

What does Russia want to achieve?

As well as making Russia a superpower and annexing part of Ukraine, Putin wants to change the international system. One expression of this change in Russia's great power status is Putin's demand for a Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.

What does the situation mean for Sweden?

The sphere of influence that Putin wants to establish may also include Finland and Sweden, which are currently non-aligned countries between Russia and NATO. Putin wants to intimidate all countries bordering Russia to take more account of Russia's military power and political will. But Sweden will probably coordinate its political and economic response with the EU, and will probably continue and deepen its cooperation with NATO and Finland. There will probably also be more voices saying that Sweden should join NATO.

Should we be worried in Sweden?

Today, however, there is no great danger that Russia will act militarily against Sweden. Russia simply does not have sufficient military capacity to act on several fronts. Most of the Russian military is already mobilized against Ukraine. Nor does Sweden have the same historical ties to Russia as Ukraine or a large Russian-speaking population that Putin can claim to protect.

Will sanctions matter?

If Russia is excluded from the international system for bank transfers, SWIFT, the economic impact will be severe. But the sanctions will also have a negative impact on the European economy because Russia sells a lot of oil and gas. It is likely to be a battle of wills to see which side can take the most punishment before concessions have to be made.

What do you think will happen now?

Putin hopes the war will end quickly. No matter how much land he manages to conquer, he will surely declare within a week that he has achieved the goals he set out to achieve. After all, the war is costing Russia a lot. But the conflict will certainly last much longer than Putin hopes as long as Ukraine has defense capabilities and the West can afford to keep economic pressure on Russia.


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