Russia’s stated goals in its invasion of Ukraine remain regime change in Kyiv and the truncation of the sovereignty of any Ukrainian state that survives the Russian attack despite Russian military setbacks and rhetoric hinting at a reduction war aims as a result of these defeats.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on July 5 that the Russian military operation in Ukraine will continue until Russia achieves its goals of protecting civilians from ‘genocide’, ‘denazification’ and demilitarization of Ukraine, and obliges Ukraine to be permanently neutral between Russia and NATO. —reaffirming almost exactly the goals announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his February 24 speech justifying the war. Putin said the operation was aimed at protecting civilians from humiliation and genocide, demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine, and prosecuting perpetrators of genocide. Patrushev’s explicit restatement of Putin’s original goals, nearly five months later, strongly indicates that the Kremlin does not view recent Russian gains in Luhansk Oblast as sufficient to achieve the original ‘special operation’ goals. , supporting the SIE’s ongoing assessment that the Kremlin has significant territorial powers. aspirations beyond the Donbass. Patrushev’s statement suggests that Russia’s military leadership will continue to push for advances outside of the Donetsk and Luhansk explosions and that the Kremlin is preparing for a protracted war with the intention of taking much larger chunks of Ukraine .
Patrushev’s statement is notable for its timing and position as Putin’s close confidant.
Patrushev is highly unlikely to stray from Putin’s position in his public comments given his relationship with Putin and his role in the Kremlin. His reaffirmation of virtually identical maximalist goals that Putin had set out before the invasion even as Russian forces appeared to be closing in on the more limited goals of securing the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts – which Putin and other Russian leaders had left behind. to hear that they were their new targets after their defeats around Kyiv – strongly suggests that these allusions did not reflect any real change in Kremlin policy. Patrushev’s statement greatly increases the burden on those who suggest that a compromise ceasefire or even a peace based on limited additional Russian territorial gains is possible, even if it were acceptable to Ukraine or desirable for the country. West (which is not the case).
Igor Girkin, a Russian nationalist and former commander of the 2014 Donbass war militants, responded to Patrushev’s statements and continued to express general disillusionment with the Kremlin’s official line on operations in Ukraine.
Girkin said the goals of “denazification” and “demilitarization” will only be possible with the total defeat of the Ukrainian military and the surrender of the Ukrainian government. Girkin noted that the Russian victory is predicated on capturing “Novorossiya” – a notional territory that encompasses eight Ukrainian oblasts, including Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and much of eastern and southern Ukraine. Girkin also claimed that the capture of “Novorossiya” is the bare minimum and that the Russian objectives will be achieved through the total capture of “Malorossiya”, which is an invocation of the Russian imperial concept for almost all Ukrainian territory. Girkin once again pushes back the Kremlin line, which he considers insufficient to secure Russian objectives in Ukraine. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Ambassador to Russia Rodion Miroshnik also suggested that the Kremlin had yet to achieve its goals in Ukraine, despite reaching the borders of its claimed oblast, and said that the NRL authorities were still not confident in the safety of the NRL. The statements of Girkin and Miroshnik, taken together, indicate that Russian nationalists continue to press for further territorial gains and, at least in Girkin’s case, large-scale regime change and the incorporation of most of Ukraine to Russia. Patrushev’s statement suggests that Kremlin thinking may not be so far removed from these extreme nationalist ambitions.
Key points to remember
- Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev reaffirmed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s original goals for operations in Ukraine, suggesting the Kremlin retains maximalist goals, including regime change and territorial expansion far beyond the Donbass.
- Russian forces continued their offensive operations northwest and east of Sloviansk.
- Russian forces attempt to advance west from the Lysychansk region towards Siversk.
- Russian forces are likely trying to gain access to the village roads southeast of Bakhmut in order to advance on the town from the south.
- Ukrainian forces conducted a limited counterattack southwest of the city of Donetsk.
- Russian forces continued limited and unsuccessful assaults in northern Kharkiv Oblast.
- Russian authorities are carrying out increased conscription measures in the occupied territories to compensate for continued manpower losses.
- The Russian authorities continue to consolidate the administrative control of the occupied areas of Ukraine, likely to set the conditions for the direct annexation of these territories to the Russian Federation.
Authors: Karolina Hird, George Barros, Grace Mappes and Frederick W. Kagan
Read the full report here.