Putin says he might try to seize nearby territory in Ukraine to prevent cross-border strikes

by Joshua Brown
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Ukraine-Russia conflict

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, indicated on Tuesday that he may authorize his forces to acquire additional territories in Ukraine to secure the Russian border. Putin argued that the Ukrainian military has experienced “disastrous” losses in a recent counteroffensive.

Putin, during his detailed war discussions, which haven’t been held in months, clarified that he wasn’t currently planning on deploying more troops. However, he didn’t entirely dismiss the idea. He reiterated Russia’s accusation that Ukraine was responsible for the destruction of a dam on the Dnieper River, which led to extensive flooding on both sides of the southern frontline last week.

Putin’s remarks were made during a lengthy meeting with military journalists and bloggers, following Kyiv’s assertion that Ukrainian forces had managed to take control of several villages in the early phases of the counteroffensive. The meeting took place after Russian missile strikes in central Ukraine reportedly killed at least 11 people.

Putin challenged the success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, claiming that Ukraine had lost 160 tanks and over 360 other armored vehicles, while Russia had lost 54 tanks since the onset of the recent assault. These figures could not be immediately verified, as Ukrainian officials generally do not comment on losses.

The White House has yet to respond to Putin’s assertions. A U.S. official familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, deemed Putin’s remarks as “not accurate” and cautioned against trusting Russia’s public assessments. The official did not specify how Putin’s claims were flawed.

Regarding alleged Ukrainian incursions into Russia and border shelling, Putin hinted at possibly establishing a “sanitary zone” within Ukraine, from where reaching Russian territory would be impossible. It remains uncertain if Russia can risk further territorial expansion in Ukraine while battling the emerging counteroffensive across a frontline exceeding 1,000 kilometers.

Lately, Russia’s border regions have been increasingly attacked, with the Kremlin blaming Ukrainian forces for incursions and drone strikes. While Ukrainian authorities haven’t confirmed their involvement, Russian sympathizer volunteer units claimed responsibility.

Local leaders in Russia have requested additional protection from the Kremlin for the residents, some of whom have been evacuated to safer areas. Putin conceded that Russian authorities should have anticipated and thwarted such attacks.

Acknowledging the significant role of military bloggers and correspondents in communicating the Kremlin’s perspective, Putin stated that Russia’s defense industry has increased drone and other weapons production. He further claimed that the West is also grappling with escalating weapons and ammunition production.

Putin noted that Russia might withdraw from a U.N.-endorsed agreement allowing grain shipments from Ukraine via a demilitarized Black Sea maritime passage. He suggested that the U.S. could cease the war by discontinuing weapons shipments to Ukraine, leaving it incapable of continuing the fight. He further predicted the West’s eventual failure in Ukraine.

While Putin spoke, the State Department announced a new military aid package worth up to $325 million for Ukraine, which includes various rockets, missiles, and other munitions.

He mocked alleged Ukrainian losses, including the loss of high-tech Western equipment. His defense ministry released a video allegedly showing a Leopard 2 tank and a Bradley fighting vehicle seized from Ukrainian forces after intense fighting in Zaporizhzhia. The video’s authenticity couldn’t be immediately confirmed.

Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have vowed to win the war, promising that they won’t back down until all of Ukraine is freed from Russian control. Also, Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, stated that the country’s forces are persisting with the offensive in four regions in the south and east.

In separate incidents, Ukrainian authorities reported at least 11 fatalities and 34 injuries from a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have used

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