Liberating Donbas is no longer the only Russian goal: Lavrov

▲ A police officer comforts a man holding the hand of a relative who was killed in a Russian bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine.photo app

John Paul Duch

Correspondent

Newspaper La Jornada
Thursday, July 21, 2022, p. 24

Moscow. Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine is no longer aimed at liberating only the self-proclaimed republics of Donietsk and Lugansk, but also the regions of Khershon, Zaporizhia and other territoriesRussian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov said yesterday in a joint interview with three state media, the RIA Novosti and Sputnik agencies and the RT satellite television channel.

At the same time, he warned that geography of operation coordinates will spread if the United States and its allies, due to rage that causes impotence or the desire to aggravate the situationthey continue to provide Ukraine with long-range weapons such as Himars multiple missile launchers.

For Lavrov, at this point there is no point in sitting down to negotiate with Ukraine, then On April 15, we handed them our proposals to cease hostilities and they still have not responded..

The foreign minister followed the pattern set by President Vladimir Putin, who the previous Tuesday, in Tehran, told the press that the final result (of negotiations) does not depend on the will of the mediators, but on the desire of the parties that are negotiating to fulfill the commitments assumed. We see that the kyiv authorities do not have such a desire.

The head of Russian diplomacy explained: when the negotiations (between Russia and Ukraine) took place in Istanbul, we had a geography and we were ready to accept the Ukrainian proposal based on that geography, the one that existed at the end of March 2022. But now the geography is different.

And he specified: Far from just the Donietsk and Lugansk people’s republics, it also encompasses the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions and other territories, and that process is continuing steadily and persistently..

According to the foreign minister, we cannot allow weapons that pose a direct threat to our territory or to the republics that declared their independence or to those who want to define their future for themselveshe added.

Lavrov, those who have closely followed this war agree, mentioned for the first time that, although he does not officially intend to occupy the territory of Ukraine, the Russian troops will stay where they are at the time a peace pact is signed.

In this sense, it confirmed what began to be glimpsed when, in the first days of hostilities, the Russian army gained control of a considerable part of the Kherson region, bordering Crimea and later Zaporizhia, which allows Russia to establish a land corridor linking Donbas with the strategic peninsula and take away from Ukraine its ports in the Sea of ​​Azov.

While the Kremlin decides what to do with the territories controlled by Russian troops, it continues to send Russian officials to hold key positions in administrations not subordinate to kyiv, distributes Russian passports to the population, imposes the ruble as the local currency, stimulates the opening of subsidiaries of Russian banks and cell phone operators, promises to open schools that will teach in Russian.

The Office of the Presidency, from where all the threads of Russian internal politics are moved, weighs various scenarios, including holding in Kherson and Zaporizhia, even with voters from Russian territory, plebiscites to proclaim themselves people’s republics in the image and likeness of those of the Donbas and, later, declare themselves independent.

Another possibility, much discussed in Moscow, is to unite Donbas with Jershon, Zaporizhia and eventually some other Ukrainian territory into a single type of entity. Eastern Russia and organize a referendum on accession to the Russian Federation.

But in order to implement any integration plan, it is necessary, first, to end the offensive in Donietsk and, at the same time, prevent Ukraine from launching its own counteroffensive to recapture Kherson and other parts of the south.