The Russian army’s defeats have contributed to some of that, and it now seems that Vladimir Putin is once again focused on the strategic and symbolic goal of bringing Kyiv to its knees.
In Ukraine, the Kremlin’s war objectives have never been totally obvious. On February 24, the idea that Vladimir Putin was exclusively concerned with the controversial southeast regions of Ukraine was dispelled. His alleged “special military operation” was actually a full-scale invasion of the country, with Kyiv as its primary target. From the direction of Belarus and the Chernobyl exclusion zone, Russian forces launched an assault on the capital. In addition to regular forces, Ramzan Kadyrov’s chechen strongman OMON special police units and troops were also sent in that direction. The assassination of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, his family, and key advisors was one of the orders. According to Oleksiy Danilov, a senior military official, during the early days of the conflict, Russian special troops repeatedly attempted but failed to breach the presidential quarters. The fights for the city and its surroundings lasted just over a month, but Ukrainian forces were able to reject those attempts as well as the larger assault to conquer Kyiv. Moscow was shifting its focus away from the conflict by early April, and the metropolis would gradually reestablish some semblance of daily normality.