Kremlin says the only way to protect Russia is to create a buffer zone with Ukraine

By Thomson Reuters Mar 18, 2024 | 6:16 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday that the only way to protect Russian territory from Ukrainian attacks was to create a buffer zone that would put Russian regions beyond the range of Ukrainian fire.

The Kremlin was commenting after President Vladimir Putin raised the possibility of setting up such a zone in a speech after winning re-election on Sunday.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

“Against the backdrop of (Ukrainian) drone attacks and the shelling of our territory: public facilities, residential buildings, measures must be taken to secure these territories.

“They can only be secured by creating some kind of buffer zone so that any means that the enemy uses to strike us are out of range.”

After winning re-election, Putin said he did not rule out setting up such a buffer zone.

“I do not exclude that, bearing in mind the tragic events taking place today, that we will be forced at some point, when we deem it appropriate, to create a certain ‘sanitary zone’ in the territories today under the Kyiv regime,” Putin said.

Putin declined to give any further details, but said such a zone might have to be big enough to stop foreign-made weapons striking Russian territory.

He made the remark after being asked whether he thought it necessary for Russia to take Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, which borders Belgorod, a Russian province that has come under regular attack from Kyiv’s forces since 2022.

Russian forces initially tried to seize Kharkiv region in February 2022, but were routed from most of the area in a Ukrainian counteroffensive in September that year.

Russian in September 2022 said it had annexed the four Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, even though it did not fully control any of them.

The Ukrainian leadership has said that Russia’s annexation is illegal and that it will not rest until every last Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian soil.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Felix Light; Editing by Andrew Osborn)