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?
‘[Ramani’s] encyclopedic descriptions… yield interesting details and… solid tactical analysis.’ — The New York Times
‘Looks behind the headlines to determine the motivations for the invasion and the likely path forward. Ramani is convincing in his view that the war marks a seismic shift in the geopolitical landscape. Clear-minded and authoritative, this book is a thorough analysis of how Putin’s gambit fits into the big picture.’ — Kirkus Reviews
‘A strongly researched account of the events that led to the tragic Russo-Ukrainian war.’ — The Washington Free Beacon
‘Unpicks Putin’s concocted rationales for invading Ukraine… [and] dissects Russia’s strategic military failings.’ — Labour Hub
‘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
‘A definitive account of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, full of thoughtful insights on why Russia sought regime change, how its leadership has managed sanctions and setbacks and what could be its post-war future. Indispensable for all who seek to understand Putin’s ambitions in establishing a new global order.’ — Kathryn Stoner, Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford University, and author of Russia Resurrected
‘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’s book on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will doubtless be followed by many others, but when it comes to meticulous research, balanced assessments, acute insights, and comprehensiveness, this superb volume has set a very high standard.’ — Rajan Menon, co-author of Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Order
‘Ramani provides a detailed and well-informed analysis of the reasons Putin invaded Ukraine and the broader implications of the war for European and international security. An important book on a topic of core concern for the future of global security.’ — Roland Dannreuther, Professor of International Relations, University of Westminster, and author of Russia and Islam
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.