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"Swinging" not only at Ukraine: ISW explains what is behind Medvedev's statements about Russia's territorial goals

Lilia RagutskaNews
Medvedev dreams of Ukraine remaining within the Kyiv region

Former Russian President and Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia intends to seize "Russia's inalienable territories" in Ukraine. He included the entire left-bank part of Ukraine and a significant part of the right bank, and a Russian official also voiced claims to Kyiv.

At the same time, the Kremlin's ruling elite is seeking to expand the "Russian world" to parts of Poland, Romania, Finland, and Moldova, among others. Medvedev's recent statements on Russia's territorial claims were analyzed by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Medvedev voiced Russia's broad territorial goals, which extend deep into Ukraine, during his lecture "Geographical and Strategic Borders" at the Russian World Youth Festival. This Kremlin-organized event reportedly attracted visitors from over a hundred countries.

According to Medvedev, "Ukraine is, of course, Russia." Thus, Moscow, through the former Russian president, claimed to have captured all Ukrainian regions on the left bank of Ukraine, part of which is currently occupied by Russia, as well as a significant part on the right bank of the country. Medvedev called the territories covered by Russia's appetites an "integral" part of Russia's "strategic historical borders."

''Swinging'' not only at Ukraine: ISW explains what is behind Medvedev's statements about Russia's territorial goals

"Medvedev spoke against the backdrop of a hypothetical English-language map of Eastern Europe that he originally posted on his Telegram channel in July 2022. The map depicts parts of western Ukraine under the control of Hungary, Poland, and Romania, contributing to the Kremlin's recently revived narrative that Eastern European countries have "territorial claims" in western Ukraine. This narrative is aimed at damaging Ukraine's relations with its western neighbors," the analysts said.

On the map that Medvedev chose as a "background" for voicing his aggressive dreams, ISW drew attention to the fact that Ukraine exists as a separate state only within the Kyiv region. The rest of Ukraine's territories are labeled as part of Russia - and the Kremlin's appetites extend far beyond the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.

"The fact that Medvedev reused the 2022 map underscores that the Kremlin's maximalist territorial goals have remained unchanged since the beginning of the war," analysts say.

''Swinging'' not only at Ukraine: ISW explains what is behind Medvedev's statements about Russia's territorial goals

In his "lecture," the former Russian president said that the influence of Russia, which he considers a "sovereign great power," extends beyond its geographic borders, serving a broader maximalist ideological interpretation of the "Russian world." Medvedev was not original in repeating Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that "Russia's borders do not end anywhere."

What the Russian official called Russia's "strategic borders," according to his vision, are different from geographical borders. And where these "strategic borders" will stretch, he says, directly depends on "how strong and sovereign" the state that establishes them is.

"Medvedev argued that the more 'powerful' a state is, the 'further its strategic borders go beyond its state borders' and the greater the sphere of 'economic, political, social and cultural influence' of the state," the analysts noted.

They recalled that Putin had recently made similar statements, which experts interpreted as the Russian dictator's belief that all states that do not unilaterally impose their will on other countries (such as Ukraine) are states with "curtailed sovereignty."

At the same time, Medvedev himself said on February 22 that Kyiv is also a "historically Russian" city, so sooner or later, he said, Russia would have to capture it. Given this statement, as well as what he said on March 4, analysts believe that even if Russia managed to end the war by leaving Ukraine within the Kyiv region, it would not insure Ukraine against future attacks by the aggressor state.

However, Medvedev's statements should have alerted not only Ukrainians but also other states located near Russia.

"Medvedev also did not specify where Russia's 'strategic' borders would extend if Russia's 'geographical' borders expanded, as shown on the hypothetical map he presented. The map, in particular, is a conservative depiction of possible Russian territorial claims, given Putin's recent geographic definition of the "Russian world" as encompassing the former Russian Empire, which includes parts of Poland, Romania, Finland and Moldova," ISW believes.

At the same time, according to Medvedev, Russia has set its sights not only on Ukrainian territories, but also on the subjugation of the Ukrainian people. This follows from the former Russian president's attempt to accuse the West of lying about Russia's intentions.

According to him, "Russia's enemies constantly insist that Russia's main goal is to seize Ukrainian lands." However, Medvedev noted, Ukraine allegedly has "almost no" Ukrainian land resources such as wheat, steel, gas and coal. The main value that Russia allegedly seeks to gain from the occupation of Ukraine is control over the Ukrainian people.

"Medvedev also said that the concept of a sovereign Ukrainian state and the concept of a Ukrainian national identity that is not Russian should 'disappear forever. ISW continues to document how the Russian authorities have repeatedly engaged in large-scale and deliberate ethnic cleansing, campaigning and systematically working to eliminate the Ukrainian language, culture, history and ethnicity in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine," the analysts summarized.

Earlier, ISW explained how the Kremlin is using China and Turkey's desire to organize negotiations with Ukraine. The aggressor country Russia is using them to promote its information operations aimed at preventing further support for Kyiv by Western partners.

It was also reported that the Institute for the Study of War stated that Russia had stopped the delivery of weapons from the DPRK by sea since mid-February.

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