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ISW: Putin has not abandoned occupational goals for Ukraine, Russia's current failures mean nothing

Putin has not abandoned plans to seize Ukraine

Several Western top officials have recently made statements that suggest that Russia has already lost the war in Ukraine: that the Kremlin's strategic defeat is that, having launched aggression, Russia "completely lost Ukraine" and is allegedly no longer able to achieve its strategic goals. Ukrainian officials are somewhat skeptical of such statements, warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to seek not only to retain the already occupied territories but also to expand the occupation zone.

This is stated in a new analytical report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). Analysts have once again emphasized that they see signals that Putin has not abandoned his occupational goals for Ukraine.

The ISW stated that Ukrainian officials continue to insist that Russia has not abandoned its maximalist goals for a war against Ukraine. As before, the Kremlin also seeks to seize new territories of Ukraine in addition to those already occupied.

This assessment is at odds with recent statements by several Western officials, which boil down to the fact that Russia has already lost the war strategically.

For example, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on December 22 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "completely lost Ukraine" and "can no longer achieve his military goals," which, according to the North Atlantic Alliance leader, is a "major strategic defeat" for the Kremlin.

However, Stoltenberg also warned Ukraine's Western partners not to think that the war would end soon.

Two days earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed a similar opinion to Stoltenberg. The American official said that Russia had already failed in achieving its main goal of destroying Ukraine and completely subjugating it.

The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine disagrees with these assessments. According to Vadym Skibitskyi, a representative of the DIU, if Putin fails to achieve certain operational and strategic objectives this year, he will simply postpone them to the next year.

"Skibitsky's statement is consistent with ISW's assessment that Russia continues to pursue Putin's maximalist goals in Ukraine and that the current failure of Russian operations in Ukraine is not final yet," ISW noted.

The analysts also drew attention to how the comments of Blinken and Stoltenberg and statements by other Western representatives that echoed them in essence were used by Russian propagandists. The words of Western politicians and officials, according to Russian propaganda, are intended to justify the West's alleged decision to reduce aid to Ukraine.

Analysts believe that the tendency to use such an "interpretation" disconnected from reality by Western representatives regarding Russia's failures in Ukraine will continue in the Russian media space.

Earlier, ISW said that Ukraine may receive F-16 fighter jets in the coming days. The analysts came to this conclusion after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's announcement the day before that preparations for the delivery of the first 18 aircraft had begun, as well as the country's commitment, along with several partners, that the first fighters would be in Ukraine by the end of 2023.

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