NewsRussia's quest for a 'demilitarized zone' in Ukraine: an attempt to exploit Western empathy?

Russia's quest for a 'demilitarized zone' in Ukraine: an attempt to exploit Western empathy?

Vladimir Putin spoke about creating a "demilitarized zone" in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin spoke about creating a "demilitarized zone" in Ukraine.

8:53 AM EST, February 1, 2024, updated: 4:33 AM EST, March 7, 2024

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American experts deciphered the January 31st speech by the Russian leader. Putin interacted with those who will be his "trusted men" during the elections in March.

Putin spoke about the concept of developing a "demilitarized" or "sanitary" zone in Ukraine. He purported that this zone would place Russian territories and Ukrainian regions under their control beyond the reach of front-line artillery and Western long-range systems.

Analysts note that the territorial ambitions Putin referred to are deliberately ambiguous and maximalistic. Achieving a frontline rollback on such a scale is presently unattainable, "as long as a sovereign Ukraine capable of resisting continues to exist," asserts ISW. One Russian pro-Kremlin-war blogger who noted Putin's comments stated that Russia would need to seize Mykolaiv and Odessa in the south, and capture the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk line in the Donetsk region to accomplish this objective.

Putin leverages Western sentiments

According to analysts, Putin's declaration is likely aimed at exploiting Western media narratives. This could potentially obstruct both short-term and long-term Western aid for Ukraine and compel the West to negotiate with Russia on its terms.

The Russian leader's comments about Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine -- which he referred to as "Russian" and also considered part of a speculative "demilitarized zone" -- are probably strategized to stir up discussions about a potential Russian incursion into the Kharkiv region from the Russian city of Belgorod.

However, analysts emphasize that the likelihood of such an offensive is slim. They presume Putin aims to heighten these discussions and fears to distract Ukraine's attention from a continuing Russian incursion at the border between Kharkiv and Luhansk regions.

Additionally, Putin widely shared the Russian offensives near Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, likely intending to portray them as a Russian military victory. He alleged that the Russians broke through Ukrainian defenses and seized 19 houses near Avdiivka, an area he deems a critical frontline location.

Be aware that plentiful information provided by Russian and Belarusian media or state spokespersons are propaganda elements. Such reports form part of the information warfare perpetrated by the Russian Federation.

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