In the five months that have elapsed since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, statements by Russian officials about the goals of the Kremlin have changed several times.
“Russia will help the Ukrainian people get rid of an absolutely anti-people and anti-historical regime,” such a statement was made on July 24 by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Cairo with the permanent representatives of the member countries of the League of Arab States. Meanwhile, less than three months ago, the chief of Russian diplomacy stated something completely different: Moscow's goal is to protect the population of Donbass, and the Kremlin is not striving for a change of power in Kyiv.
July: “a different geography” and “getting rid of the anti-people regime”
According to Lavrov, the Ukrainian and Russian people “will continue to live together”, and “Russia will help the Ukrainian people get rid of the “absolutely anti-people and anti-historical regime”.
Earlier, on July 20, in an interview with RT, Lavrov said that the task, as he put it, “of the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine – in the sense that there are no threats to our security, military threats from the territory of Ukraine,” is for Moscow remains. However, now “the geography is different,” he added: “This is not only the “DNR” and “LNR”, it is also the Kherson region, the Zaporozhye region and a number of other territories.
In the Ukrainian media, this is the statement of the head The Russian Foreign Ministry provoked a strong reaction, connected with the assumption that “Russia is preparing the ground for the annexation of the south of Ukraine.”
May: the goal of a change of power in Kyiv is not worth it
Russia's goal is “to ensure the security of people in the east of Ukraine, so that they are not threatened by either the militarization or the nazification of this country, and that there are no threats to the security of the Russian Federation from the territory of Ukraine,” Sergey Lavrov explained on May 1 in an interview with the Italian television company Mediaset. This was his first contact with European TV journalists since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
Asked if Russia wants Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to surrender, Lavrov then pointed out: “We do not demand that he surrender. We demand that he give the order to release all civilians and stop resistance. Our goal does not include changing regime in Ukraine. This is an American speciality. They do this all over the world.”
Later, on May 31, at a meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Hussein Ibrahim Taha, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed the opinion that “Western colleagues”, using the situation in Ukraine, want to interfere with the processes of “the formation of a multipolar world” and for this “are trying to mobilize all other countries under their banners”.
April: confrontation with the United States
On April 11, Sergei Lavrov formulated the goals of the Russian Federation as follows: “Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion of the course towards the complete dominance of the United States and, under it, the rest of the Western countries in the international arena.” At the same time, Lavrov pointed out that the West has made Ukraine “a springboard for the final suppression of Russia”, while Russia “will never occupy a subordinate position.”
Later, on April 24, Aleksey Polishchuk, director of the second department of the CIS countries of the Russian Foreign Ministry, promised that “the special operation will be completed when its tasks are completed.” Among the latter, he called “the elimination of threats to Russia emanating from Ukrainian territory due to its development by NATO countries.”
End of March: “assistance to the people of the DPR and LPR”
At the end of March, after the failure of the RF Armed Forces offensive against Kyiv, the rhetoric of Russian officials changed noticeably. From the point of view of military tasks, the “denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine” proclaimed by Moscow has receded into the background. At the second stage of hostilities, according to the statements of the Ministry of Defense, Russia should concentrate on helping the Donbass and resolving the conflict through negotiations.
On the evening of March 25, at a briefing at the Russian Ministry of Defense, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, summing up the results of the first month of hostilities, noted that the main goal of “the Russian special operation is to assist the people of the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics, who have been subjected to genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years.”
Meanwhile, the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Igor Konashenkov, announced on March 30 at a briefing that “the armed forces of Russia, in the course of a special military operation in Ukraine, have completed all the main tasks in the Kiev and Chernigov directions,” and “the purpose of the regrouping of the Russian armed forces is to activate actions in priority areas and, above all, the completion of the operation for the complete liberation of Donbass”.
Early March: “protection of the Russian Federation from Western military threats”
On March 1, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made an appeal, saying the following: “The main thing for us is to protect the Russian Federation from the military threat posed by Western countries that are trying to use the Ukrainian people in the fight against our country.”
Two weeks later, on March 16, Vladimir Putin, at a meeting on measures of socio-economic support for the regions of the Russian Federation, said that Moscow had begun hostilities against Kyiv because “all diplomatic possibilities had been completely exhausted.” “We were simply left with no options to peacefully solve problems that arise through no fault of ours. And in this regard, we were simply forced to launch a special military operation,” he stressed.
“The appearance of Russian troops near Kyiv, other cities of Ukraine is not connected with the intention to occupy this country, we do not have such a goal,” Putin added. On March 19, Sergei Lavrov, listing the tasks set by Moscow in Ukraine, noted that one of them is to obtain security guarantees “which will be based on the principle of indivisibility of common security for Ukraine, for Russia, for all European countries.”
February 24: “denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine”
Announcing the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calling it a special operation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on February 24 that Russia's main goal is “to protect people who have been abused for eight years , genocide by the Kyiv regime”. “And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. As well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation,” Putin explained.
Next Sergey Lavrov, for his part, added: “President Putin has decided to conduct a special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine so that, freed from this oppression, Ukrainians themselves could freely determine their future.”