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By John Helmer, Moscow

Since the Ukrainian abrogation of the  Istanbul non-aggression and neutrality agreement of March 2022, which President Vladimir Putin displayed to a delegation of African leaders last Saturday, one thing has been clear. The pact to end this war will be drafted and signed by Ukrainian soldiers who have been defeated in the field, not by civilian politicians who are paid and instructed by Washington.  

The terms will be dictated by Russian soldiers. They will calculate the distances to be covered by long-range NATO artillery and missile launches on Russian territory, and of Ukrainian terrorist attacks into Russian regions. These are military facts the Russian General Staff have a long history of calculating, plotting them on maps and reinforcing the depth of defence and control lines – as long ago as the Soviet Army war against the US-backed Afghan mujahideen.

Since last November, when this website published first maps of a demilitarized zone for the Ukrainian territory, the depth of the Russian defence lines has been moving steadily westward. As each of the Ukrainian strategic reserves – units newly trained and armed by the US and NATO states – are committed to battle and fail, their retreat leaves all of the remaining Ukrainian territory open to a Russian advance.  

What follows is the first detailed discussion in the open in Moscow of how the map of this territory should be drawn when the Ukrainian offensive reaches its end, and the Russian advance begins.   

Left out of mention is who in Moscow will be drawing the new map. This is because Putin has annonced he is delegating to the General Staff.  “Russia’s military leadership,” he said on June 9, “is realistic in its assessments of the situation and will proceed from these realities as it continues to plan up our actions in the short term.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had already said the same a year ago. “Now the geography is different,” he concluded an interview in Moscow on July 20, 2022.   “Take the HIMARS. [Ukrainian] Defence Minister Alexei Reznikov boasts that they have already received 300-kilometre ammunition. This means our geographic objectives will move even further from the current line. We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that Vladimir Zelensky, or whoever replaces him, will control to have weapons that pose a direct threat to our territory or to the republics that have declared their independence and want to determine their own future.”

“[Question:] How can this be arranged, technically? This is our territory. Then there are the republics that will accede to us. In fact they already have – the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. … Further west, there is the territory controlled by Vladimir Zelensky. They have a common border. So either there should be a 300 kilometre buffer zone or something between them, or we need to march all the way to Lvov inclusive.”

“[Lavrov:] There is a solution to this problem. The military know this.”

“Comrade servicemen,” Lavrov added last week on a visit to the 201st Russian Military Base in Tajikistan, “they are getting ready, in earnest, to supply the F-16 jets. Some say they will make two squadrons available, others say eight. They are gearing up to continue the escalation of the war against us. There’s an ongoing debate about where these planes will take off from. Our armed forces and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces are well aware of ongoing developments and report to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. We must keep in mind that one version of the F-16 can carry nuclear weapons. If they do not understand this, they are worthless military strategists and planners.”  

The General Staff have no reason to speak publicly on this point.

Privately, a source in a position to know says: “the General Staff are not satisfied with the Dnieper [line of defence]. It will run from a small town on the border with Belarus to Transnistria. They will solve that problem as well. But mainly, Belarus has to be protected from the south. And most importantly, that leaves nothing of the Ukraine except the territory which the Poles and Hungarians might not be bold enough to take.”

Source: https://vz.ru/
In the verbatim translation following, maps and photographs have been added.

June 17, 2023
The Afghan experience prompted us to create a “sanitary zone” in  Ukraine
 The experience of fighting the mujahideen in Afghanistan can be used to
 confront the AFU
by Andrei Rezchikov

Vladimir Putin spoke twice this week about the creation of a “sanitary cordon” on the territory of Ukraine. This line should protect the territories of the Russian Federation from the attacks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine [AFU], which receive long-range missiles from the West. Russia has experience in creating such a zone in Afghanistan, but in the new realities we may be talking about a larger project. In which territories is such a cordon necessary, first of all?

Moscow will consider the possibility of creating a “sanitary cordon” on the territory of Ukraine if the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue attacks on Russian territories. This was stated by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “They should just understand where it all leads to. We are working on military targets with high–precision long-range and high-power weapons and are achieving success,” he added.

Putin raised this topic at a meeting with military officers at the beginning of the week. “The possibility of shelling our territory from the territory of Ukraine remains,  of course.  There are several ways to solve this: firstly, increasing the effectiveness of counter-battery warfare. But this does not mean that the incoming so-called will not be on our territory. And if this continues, then we will probably have to consider the issue, I say this very carefully, in order to create some kind of sanitary zone on the territory of Ukraine at such a distance from which it would be impossible to get our territory,” the president said.

The width and boundaries of this “sanitary zone” depend on the range of weapons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov added on Saturday. “The more advanced the tactical and technical characteristics of weapons in Ukraine, the greater this distance should be,” he stressed.

Outline map of Ukraine Demilitarized Zone  (UDZ) – November 27, 2022.

Outline map of UDZ – June 13, 2023.

The head of the Duma Defense Committee, Andrei Kartapolov, also said that the “sanitary zone” would have to be free of weapons reaching the territory “that Russia considers its own.” According to the deputy, the General Staff should “form a concept and report to the president” on the creation of such a zone.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev mentioned back in March that the “sanitary strip” in Ukraine would not allow the Armed Forces of Ukraine to use weapons at medium and short distances of 70-100 km. But already this week [June 14], in his Telegram channel, Medvedev said that, taking into account the decision of the West to supply Kiev with long-range weapons, the line of the demilitarized “sanitary zone” should run “along the borders of Lvov (Polish Lemberg) in order to play a real defensive role. “Then they will be the new secure borders of what used to be called the ‘404 country,'” he wrote.

Source: https://t.me/ June 14, 2023. In the second paragraph, Medvedev said: “If we proceed from the proven complicity of Western countries in undermining the Nord Stream [pipelines],  then not even moral restrictions are left for us  to refrain from destroying the cable communication of our enemies laid on the ocean floor.”

“It is more accurate to use the term “buffer zone”. Having taken control of this zone, in the outcome we are unlikely to give it to Ukraine,” says Alexander Perendzhiev, Associate Professor of the Department of Political Analysis and Socio–Psychological Processes at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, and a  member of the expert council of “Officers of Russia”.  “If Ukraine continues to shoot, the process of advancing Russian troops to the west may be endless,” he added.

According to this expert, the “sanitary cordon” could now become the Dnieper River. “Remember the Great Stand on the Ugra in 1480.  This event is considered the completion of the overthrow of the Mongol-Tatar yoke in Russia. Now we can also assume that the liberation of the southern underbelly in the form of Odessa, Nikolaev, and  up to the border with Transnistria will take place,” Perendzhiev suggested. But there are other opinions, too.

“If such a zone is created, it will run from the Bug to the Vistula, but not along the Dnieper line, because many supporters of Russia, Russians, live in Kiev. This is traditionally our land, which was part of the Russian Empire, the USSR. Therefore, we have every right to talk about a  security line on territories fundamentally different from the territories historically belonging to Russia. Russia’s geopolitical interests extend much further than the Dnieper line,” said Oleg Ivannikov, a military political scientist and lieutenant colonel (reserve) at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

According to Ivannikov, today the number one task is the denazification of the Kiev regime. Therefore, when there are fundamental political changes in the Ukrainian statehood, “the very question of creating buffer zones would become irrelevant.”

“We are not talking about the firing of tanks, mortars, large-calibre artillery at our territories. Western artillery systems have the ability to hit targets at a distance of up to 40 kilometres. The fact that such a zone should be near Donetsk and further from the DPR border is unequivocal. And also in the LPR, in the Kherson region and in Zaporozhye – where there is still fighting. Of course, we are talking about the Belgorod region and the Bryansk region, which borders with the Sumy and Chernigov regions,” said Vasily Dandykin, captain of the 1st rank, deputy editor–in-chief of the Warrior of Russia magazine.

He recalled that Russia already has experience in creating a buffer zone in Afghanistan. “When the 40th Combined Arms Army was there, which was part of a limited contingent of Soviet troops, the “sanitary zone” was provided by the border troops of the USSR. They had maneuverable groups that did not allow the mujahideen to enter the rear of our group on the territory for tens of kilometers,” the expert said.

According to Dandykin, the size of the “sanitary cordon” depends on what range of weapons the enemy will have. “If these are long-range cruise missiles, then a zone of 40 kilometres does not make sense. Now Ukraine has HIMARS MLRS [multiple launch rocket systems] with missiles with a flight range of up to 80 kilometres. The Americans can supply missiles with a range of up to 200 kilometres,” Dandykin said.

Left to right: Andrei Kartapolov,  Alexander  Perendzhiev,  Oleg Ivannikov, Vasily Dandykin.  

From the beginning of the AFU counteroffensive, the enemy began to attack during the day, although he had previously practised mainly sorties at night. “The attacks are carried out by drones, Grom-2 missile — they are trying to probe the Crimea and not only there.  They have already fired British Storm Shadow missiles at Lugansk, which is hundreds of kilometres from the front line. If they act like inveterate terrorists, then it is necessary to create a “sanitary cordon”,emphasizes the captain of the 1st rank.

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