As the war in Ukraine grinds into its fourth month, top Russian officials say the invasion will continue until the Kremlin achieves its wartime aims.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, appeared on 60 Minutes, a top Russian state media broadcast, to discuss the course of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. "Our reaction is to prove that these [Western] plans [to make Russia suffer a defeat] will collapse, that they will fail, that we will put an end to it where we deem right, and not where some strategists, ideologists or military planners in Washington or other capitals imagine,” Ryabkov said.
“We must prove this by our willpower, by the force of arms, and by our readiness to stand firm, to adhere to the aims that were declared by our leadership, and to ensure their achievement,” he added.
Ryabkov claimed Kyiv is continuing to stonewall Russian efforts to resume peace talks, which sputtered to a halt in March after seemingly achieving limited progress toward an agreement over Ukrainian military neutrality.
"If [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky and his team are not ready for negotiations, if those behind him are determined to continue their mindless, or rather, insane pumping of Ukraine with weapons, it is their choice, it is sad, it is tragic, but we cannot retreat," Ryabkov warned.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukraine of severing peace talks at the urging of Washington. "These talks were frozen, halted, broken off. Let them [Ukraine] say for themselves what they did with these talks. We know that very well because we have information that was the order given by their American handlers,” she said, according to TASS, a Russian state news outlet.
Russian and Russian-aligned separatist forces, which control swathes of Ukraine’s east and south, are slowly but steadily pushing Ukrainian troops out of the contested Donbass region. The invading Russian forces continue to make gains in their advances toward Sloviansk, one of Ukraine’s last major strongholds in the Donbass, and are on the verge of consolidating control over the strategically-positioned city of Severodonetsk.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in May that he sees the withdrawal of Russian troops in Ukraine to pre-February borders as a pre-condition for meaningful peace talks. Though the scope of Russia’s current war aims in Ukraine remains unclear, the Russian military has so far shown no indication that it is prepared to willingly abandon any of the eastern and southern territories—including Kherson, Melitopol, and Mariupol—that it has captured over the course of its invasion.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.