Vladimir Putin repeatedly emphasizes his supposed motives for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But there are some indications that the Russian president’s only concern from the outset was to keep his regime in power.

The motives for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are well known: he cites the threat posed by NATO and his plan to restore the “unity of the Russian world” as reasons. The Kremlin boss also cites an alleged genocide in Ukraine as a motive.

For François Bonnet, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the French print magazine Revue du Crieur, these are just pretexts to hide Putin’s real motive. According to Bonnet, Putin is much more the head of a criminal “family” for which war is a means of securing their own existence and the system that has been created. According to this, his closest confidants would belong to Putin’s regime. So was Putin only concerned with his regime in the war of aggression against Ukraine?

Corruption, murder and the economic exploitation of the country: According to Bonnet, Putin and his closest associates have created a system of bribery, extortion and the fraudulent sale of export licenses. But his criminal activities would go largely unnoticed by the West.

The entire Putin regime can only be described as “imaginative banditry,” says historian Yaroslav Shimov from the Institute for Slavic and Balkan Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in an interview with “Bayrische Rundfunk”. According to Shimov, Putin’s regime is only intended to sustain itself and reproduce itself.

This would also imply the transfer of power and property to the next generation of clan members. In addition, the historian says that like any organized criminal group, Putin’s family is inscrutable. But within the Putin regime, everyone knows how much blood is on each other’s hands.

Shimov further explains: “An organized crime group survives only as long as it is able to siphon resources from the system it plunders through violence, fear and blackmail, be it an alcohol and cigarette trade or a vast country .” For Putin’s “family” the main focus is on the struggle for power.

And it is exactly this line of argument that Bonnet also uses: He sees four arguments why Putin, as a “criminal in a politician’s costume”, would only think of his existence and his criminal “family” during the war in Ukraine. The first indication for Bonnet is that the war against Ukraine began in 2014.

Because with the annexation of Crimea and the expansion of the conflict to the “separatist” areas, the conflict between the two countries began. At the time, this was still dismissed as a local conflict in the Donbass and less as Putin’s neo-imperialist actions. For Putin, securing Sevastopol as the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet was particularly important.

The second reason Bonnet cites is that the start of the Russian invasion in February was primarily a decision by Putin and his confidants. For Bonnet, it is doubtful whether the Russian political and social elite was united behind it. After all, protest actions from Russia have repeatedly reached the public.

And Bonnet sees another indication: “Putin’s arguments for “eliminating the Nazi filth in Kyiv” are inconsistent, so that some would question his sanity. So this could just be an attempt to hide the real motive for the war, Bonnet said. Since there are no right-wing extremist parties in the Ukrainian parliament, this argument is difficult for the public to take seriously.

If you know which devices at home use how much electricity, you can make targeted savings. Our e-paper shows which devices consume how much electricity for all common household appliances, from ovens and stoves to refrigerators and washing machines to TVs and WLAN routers. There are also a number of instant power-saving tips.

And a look into the past shows that war was a means of establishing power for Putin and his confidants from the outset. According to Bonnet, the Ukraine war is one of a series of military actions that were primarily carried out for domestic reasons.

Think of the time before the second Chechen war. There was mounting evidence that the then head of the Russian domestic secret service, Putin confidant and current Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev is said to have been behind the series of attacks on residential buildings in autumn 1999.

Thus, the death of hundreds of civilians was accepted. By blaming Chechnya for the attacks, Putin’s actions in the second Chechen war could be justified. This also made Putin’s election as president possible in the first place.

At the end of Putin’s second four-year mandate, things were not looking good for Putin: political assassinations, a lack of rule of law and corruption caused his polls to drop. Putin’s actions were already declaring the West an enemy and waging a blitzkrieg in Georgia. According to Bonnet, Putin’s polls quickly rose again. The war in Ukraine was also intended as a blitzkrieg.

In addition, Russia’s annexation of Crimea shot up Putin’s popularity ratings. According to this, Putin could have started the war hoping for increasing popularity in Russia.

But another aspect shows that Putin’s main priority is to stay in power. Putin is afraid of the emergence of a flourishing democracy on the border with Russia, history professor Schulze Wessel told the “Bayrischer Rundfunk”. Such a democracy in Ukraine would also have a social impact on Russia.

According to Wessel, if the citizens were given a clear picture of what living conditions would be like in a Western-oriented and economically prosperous democracy, there could be pressure for reform.

It remains to be seen whether Putin’s well-known war motives are just an excuse. But it is clear that it is becoming increasingly important for the Kremlin boss to retain his power in the Kremlin. Because given the lack of Russian successes on the battlefield, popular approval has fallen sharply, according to the intelligence update from the Ministry of Defense in London.