President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, June 13 stated that he could try to make an offensive for Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital again, but that it was a question only he could answer.
More than 15 months since Putin sent troops into Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian forces are still battling along a 1,000-km (600-mile) front line, far away from the capital Kyiv.
Using the word “war” several times, on Tuesday, June 13, Putin warned the West, suggesting Russia may have to impose a “sanitary zone” in Ukraine to prevent it attacking Russia and saying Moscow was considering ditching the Black Sea grain deal mediated by Turkey and the UN.
Russia, he said, had no need for nationwide martial law and would keep responding to breaches of its red lines.
According to Putin, Americans did not want World War Three, but Washington gave the impression it was unafraid of escalation.
Putin’s strongest remark was about Kyiv, which Russian forces tried and failed to capture just hours after Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on February 24 last year. Russian troops were beaten back from Kyiv and eventually withdrew to a swathe of land in Ukraine’s east and south which Putin has declared is now part of Russia. Ukraine says it will never rest until every Russian soldier is ejected from its land.
“Should we return there or not? Why am I asking such a rhetorical question?” Putin told 18 Russian war correspondents and bloggers in the Kremlin.
“Only I can answer this myself,” Putin said. His comments were shown on Russian state television.
At times using Russian slang, Putin said Russia was not going to change course in Ukraine.
Russia’s future plans in Ukraine, he said, would be decided once the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which he said began on June 4, was over.
Putin added that Ukrainian human losses were 10 times greater than Russia’s during the counter offensive.