Putin’s War on Ukraine
Russia’s Campaign for Global Counter-Revolution
Why did Putin invade Ukraine?
Eight years after annexing Crimea, Russia embarked on a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022. For Vladimir Putin, this was a legacy-defining mission—to restore Russia’s sphere of influence and undo Ukraine’s surprisingly resilient democratic experiment. Yet Putin’s aspirations were swiftly eviscerated, as the conflict degenerated into a bloody war of attrition and the Russian economy faced crippling sanctions. How can we make sense of his decision to invade?
This book argues that Putin’s policy of global counter-revolution is driven not by systemic factors, such as preventing NATO expansion, but domestic ones: the desire to unite Russians around common principles and consolidate his personal brand of authoritarianism. This objective has inspired military interventions in Crimea, Donbas and Syria, and now all-out war against Kyiv.
Samuel Ramani explores why Putin opted for regime change in Ukraine, rather than a smaller-scale intervention in Donbas, and considers the impact on his own regime’s legitimacy. How has Russia’s long-term political and foreign policy trajectory shifted? And how will the international response reshape the world order?
‘This book will help those who cannot understand why and how a genocidal war of colonial reconquest came to be launched on Europe in the twenty-first century. But it also explains clearly the vital importance of that war for the future of Russia itself and of global security.’ — Keir Giles, Research Director, Conflict Studies Research Centre
‘This valuable study offers a compelling, detailed and well-sustained argument that Putin seeks to subjugate Ukraine through war, as part of a broader illiberal “counter-revolutionary” agenda for control of former Soviet territory.’ — Roy Allison, Professor of Russian and Eurasian International Relations, University of Oxford
Samuel Ramani DPhil teaches Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. The author of Russia in Africa, also published by Hurst, and an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, he contributes regularly to Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, the BBC World Service, Al Jazeera and CNN.