If the world held out any hope that Russia was content with conquering Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s new military commander squashed them over the weekend. His advice was to buckle up for a long ride. Here is the whole story.
Doubting His True Intentions
Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev has spent most of the Russia-Ukraine war commanding the Central Military District and Russian Central Grouping of Forces.
Those are boots-on-the-ground units that have been embedded in Ukraine and are charged with moving the war effort forward.
So when Russian president Vladimir Putin recently promoted Mordvichev to the position of Colonel-General, the move heightened fears that the dictator had bigger plans in mind.
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, world leaders and news pundits have expressed doubts over his true intentions.
Russia’s Plan for ‘Unification’
While Putin has repeatedly said that his main objective is to reunite Russia by bringing Ukraine back into the fold, many observers think he has broader ambitions.
And in the many months since the invasion began, several Russian leaders and mouthpieces have only added to those concerns.
Calling for attacks on other European countries or even America, Putin’s lackeys have continued to stir the pot.
It’s no secret, either, that tensions are high between Russia and NATO, with each side pointing accusatory fingers over actions they say may violate whatever tentative peace agreements are in place.
Do Plans Extend Beyond Ukraine?
Shortly after his promotion, Mordichev sat down for an interview on social media, and it’s clear that his new position is not just some figurehead move.
When asked about how long the war might drag on, the new general said that Russia had no specific time frame in mind.
He also said it’s not really possible to timebox their efforts because there are other options on the table.
“If we are talking about Eastern Europe, which we will have to, of course then it will be longer,” Mordichev, hinting that Russia has its eyes on other countries besides Ukraine.
“It Is Only the Beginning”
When the interviewer asked him point blank if Ukraine was indeed just a stepping stone, Mordichev didn’t mince words.
“Yes, absolutely. It is only the beginning,” the new general said. He also promised that the war “will not stop here.”
Whether or not this is just more bluster from another Putin mouthpiece remains to be seen. After all, any employee with a new promotion under his belt is likely to feel some kinship with his boss.
Fearing the Future
So maybe Mordichev is just spouting the company line so that Putin himself can maintain a shred of diplomacy while puffing Russia’s nationalistic chest.
And maybe Russia doesn’t have much real hope of expanding beyond Ukraine. A victory over their initial target is no sure thing at this point, after all.
But just the fact that Putin seems to be aligning his leaders for something – anything – beyond the war in Ukraine should be enough to make the rest of the world at least a little nervous.
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