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31 Jan, 2024 22:31

Russia to expand Ukraine’s ‘demilitarized zone’ – Putin

Moscow’s forces must ensure Kiev’s troops cannot strike Russian cities with longer-range Western weapons, the president has said
Russia to expand Ukraine’s ‘demilitarized zone’ – Putin

Russia needs to create a large “demilitarized zone” in Ukraine, one that is big enough to ensure no longe-range weapons can strike Russian cities, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday

Russian border regions have been subjected to frequent drone and missile attacks, as well as shelling by the Ukrainian military, since the start of the conflict between Kiev and Moscow. One of the deadliest attacks took place on December 30, when Kiev’s forces struck the Russian border city of Belgorod with multiple rocket launchers, including the RM-70 Vampire – an upgraded heavier version of the Soviet BM-21 Grad system.

A strike in December claimed the lives of 25 people, including children, and left more than 100 injured. In January, another massive strike hit the city of Donetsk, killing 27 civilians. Both attacks were condemned by the UN.

“This [demilitarized] line should… lie at such a distance from our territory that it would ensure the security [of Russian cities],” the president said on Wednesday, adding that he was specifically referring to protection from “foreign-made longer-range weapons that the Ukrainian authorities use to strike peaceful cities.”

According to Putin, Russian forces fighting on the front lines were pushing Kiev’s troops away from Russian borders to safeguard national security. “This is the main mission for our guys: to protect their homeland, to protect our people,” he said.

The “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine were cited as the major goals of Russia’s military operation from the beginning. Putin specifically mentioned a demilitarized or “sanitary” zone that was to be created in Ukraine in June 2023. At the time, the president said the zone could be created if Kiev’s forces continue to launch attacks on Russian cities. The goal would be to make it impossible for the Ukrainian military “to reach us,” he said.

The US and its allies have been actively supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons throughout the conflict, which have ranged from howitzers and various artillery pieces to multiple rocket launchers and missile systems.

The list of the longer-range Western-made weapons in Kiev’s possession include British-made Storm Shadow missiles that have a range of 250km (155 miles) and the US-made Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which have a range of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles).

Earlier this week, Politico reported that Washington could provide Kiev with Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB), which also have a range of around 160 kilometers (100 miles).

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