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Putin hints at Ukraine operation goals

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made certain revelations regarding Moscow’s current goals in its military campaign in Ukraine. Russian troops are unlikely to mount an offensive targeting Kiev as of now, he hinted while discussing the operation with military correspondents and bloggers on Tuesday.

His comments came as the president was discussing a potential new mobilization campaign in Russia, the need for which would be defined by the operation’s goals, he said.

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“Do we need to march on Kiev? If we do, then we need mobilization. If we don’t, then not,” Putin said, adding that “there is no need” to launch a new military draft campaign “today.” The president also said that Russian troops have enjoyed a steady inflow of volunteers. Over 150,000 people have signed a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry since January, he revealed.

Speaking about Russia’s “fundamental” goals in Ukraine, the president confirmed that they remained the same and that the Kremlin had no plans to change them. Missions are adapted based on developments on the battlefield, he added.

Back in February 2022, when Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, Putin cited the need to protect the people of Donbass, as well as Kiev’s failure to implement the 2014-2015 Minsk peace accords as the reasons for the move. He also said Russia was seeking the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine, which included commitments by Kiev to maintaining a neutral status and abandoning plans to join NATO at the time.

On Tuesday, speaking about Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, Putin referred to the late St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak. Putin had served as Sobchak’s deputy in the 1990s and once called the politician “his mentor and friend.”

“[Sobchak] was a clever man … he was right to say: ‘You want to leave? Leave. But leave only with something you had come with’,” the president told the military correspondents and bloggers.

Putin has previously repeatedly stated that southern and eastern Ukrainian regions that have now joined Russia were once Russian regions during the Russian Empire and were only made part of Ukraine by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution.

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