Putin clarifies Russia's main goal in Ukraine
Russia's plan for its military operation in Ukraine has not changed, and the main objective remains to liberate the entire territory of the two Donbass republics, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. The statement comes amid an ongoing counter-offensive by Kiev.
“There are no adjustments to the plan. The General Staff makes operational decisions in the course of the campaign as to what is considered a key objective,” Putin told reporters on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
“The main goal is the liberation of the entire territory of Donbass. This work continues, despite the attempted counterattacks by the Ukrainian army,” the Russian president added.
Putin pointed out that the Russian army continues to make “incremental” advances in the Donbass itself. He also said Moscow is “not in a hurry” in Ukraine.
Commenting on the “Kiev Security Compact” presented by Ukraine this week, the Russian president noted that the two countries had worked out a set of security guarantees and terms for ending the conflict back in March at the Istanbul talks – but then Kiev walked away from the table.
“Now they say they don’t want any agreements with Russia, but wish to win on the battlefield. Well, flag in hand,” Putin said, using a Russian idiom for ironically wishing someone success in a hopeless endeavor.
Though his spokesman Dmitry Peskov had described Kiev’s proposal as proof that Russia is being threatened by NATO, Putin said he wanted to wait and see what the Ukrainians actually come up with, as “their position on almost every issue changes almost every day.”
The West does plan to break up Russia – and has had such plans for decades – the president noted, but one of the reasons the special military operation began is that some Western countries decided to use Ukraine to achieve that.
Moscow has responded “with restraint” to Ukrainian “terror attacks” against civilian infrastructure and officials, including the targeting of nuclear facilities inside Russia, Putin said. Such behavior is unacceptable, and if Ukraine continues with it, the Russian response will be “more serious” than the recent “sensitive strikes,” which represented a warning of sorts, the Russian president added.