Russian President outlines objectives of the special military operation in the Donbass warning a buffer zone will be created if attacks on Russia continue
The goals of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine have not changed and are in fact being served by Kiev’s latest offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a gathering of war correspondents at the Kremlin on Tuesday.
He also warned that if shelling of Russian territories continue, Russia would have to create “buffer zone” in Ukrainian territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with military correspondents at the Kremlin, June 13, 2023. © The Kremlin/Handout
“If Kiev’s drone strikes and incursion continue, Moscow may consider setting up a “buffer zone” in Ukrainian territory, to keep them out of range. “No fundamental changes have taken place today in terms of the goals that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the operation,” Putin said.
“The goals laid out in February 2022 are “essential” and while some details are subject to change based on the developing situation, they remain fundamentally the same, Putin said.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev © RIA Novosti
Demilitarisation of Ukraine is happening “gradually and methodically,” with Kiev’s troops now entirely reliant on Western weapons, equipment and ammunition, unable to produce anything locally. There has been progress on protecting the people of Donbass, though Ukraine continues to bombard them.”
Kiev launched a large-scale offensive on June 4, using the troops and equipment provided by the West, but without success in any sector. “They’re taking heavy casualties. Greater than ours” by a factor of ten, said the Russian president. Equipment-wise, Ukraine has already lost up to 30% of what the West has provided, including three times as many tanks as Russia.
More troops will be needed if there is a decision to march on Kiev, but not under the current circumstances, the Russian president said. On top of the 300,000 reservists called up last fall, more than 150,000 people have signed up for contract service, at a rate of 9,500 a week. Conscripts doing their regular service have also seen battle in Belgorod, and acquitted themselves admirably.
Russia began overhauling its defense industry eight years ago, but the conflict made clear the remaining shortcomings, Putin said, such as the availability of drones. Since the start of hostilities, the Russian industry has increased production up to tenfold for certain systems, with some companies operating in three shifts. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s capabilities have been almost entirely eliminated and they depend entirely on the West. The West doesn’t care if their weapons deliveries violate laws, and have not yet realized they will never achieve their objectives when it comes to Russia. “They will have to understand that. I think they gradually will,” Putin said.
Writing on Telegram on Wednesday, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former president Dmitry Medvedev stated that any potential demilitarized zone created by Russia in Ukraine should extend close to the Polish border.
Responding to remarks made on Tuesday by Putin, that Moscow could consider establishing a “buffer zone” in Ukraine to prevent Russian regions from being shelled, he wrote “Taking into account the enemy’s decisions to supply the Kiev regime with weapons with an even longer range, this line should pass in the area of Lviv… so that it could play a real defensive role,” Medvedev said, referring to the large city in western Ukraine, not far from the Polish border.
Moscow has repeatedly accused Kiev of using Western-supplied weapons to attack civilian targets in Russia. Last month, the UK provided Kiev with an unspecified number of Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of more than 250km (150 miles). The weapons were subsequently used by Ukrainian troops to target civilians in the Russian city of Lugansk, Moscow claimed.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian troops have significantly ramped up artillery attacks on Russian border regions, firing hundreds of shells and causing civilian casualties as well as widespread destruction.
Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, also pointed to what he claimed was the “proven complicity” of Western nations in the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines last autumn. He added that against this backdrop, Moscow “has no more constraints even in moral terms to refrain from destroying enemy cable communications laid on the ocean floor.”
In February, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh released a report accusing the US of orchestrating the attack on the pipelines, which were built to transport gas from Russia to Germany. Hersh claimed the US acted in response to the German government’s reluctance to send more military support to Ukraine. Washington dismissed the allegations, although President Putin said he “fully agrees” with Hersh’s conclusions.