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At the forum titled "What kind of Ukraine do we need?" in Moscow, Konstantin Zatulin, a lawmaker of the Russian State Duma from the United Russia faction, said that Russia has not achieved its stated goals during the war against Ukraine; now the faction might punish him for his statement.
Details: On 1 June, at the foresight forum "What kind of Ukraine do we need?" Konstantin Zatulin, the first deputy chairman of the Committee on Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Affairs of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and the Head of the Institute of CIS Countries, said that the "special military operation" [that is how Russians call the war in Ukraine - ed.] should have been called a war from the very beginning.
In his opinion, the purpose of the war was to destroy Ukraine, but now Moscow has no reason to believe that "the statehood of Ukraine and Ukraine in general as such, and some say that Ukrainians as such, do not exist".
Zatulin said that it is too early for Russia to calm down and believe that it will definitely win.
Quote: "When the conversation on the logic of this special military operation begins, you understand that it was, – if I understand correctly, I did not read these plans, – that quite rapidly after our intense action, the Ukrainian state falls apart, and without much sacrifice it is possible to achieve what has not been achieved for eight years, while they tried to implement the Minsk agreements.
Unfortunately, that plan fell through. It was just unrealistic at its core. (...) So now we have to move on to another plan. There should be one. And we essentially go to it in an orderly fashion, and we just don't name it.
What were our goals, officially declared at the beginning of the military operation? You all remember: denazification, demilitarisation, neutrality of Ukraine, and protection of the inhabitants of Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, who suffered all this time.
On which of these points have we achieved results to date? None of them.
Moreover, some of them ceased to make any sense. For example, ‘neutrality of Ukraine’. What is the point of making this demand? None at this point. It will no longer be neutral if it [Ukraine - ed.] remains intact."
Details: Zatulin did not agree with the idea that sounded at the forum that "the statehood of Ukraine no longer exists". He is sure that Ukraine will remain "because [Russia does not possess - ed.] the strength to overcome this with the support that is provided to them [Ukrainians - ed.]".
In his opinion, the Kremlin also understands this, which is why "Viktor Medvedchuk [to whose daughter Putin is godfather to – ed.] has reappeared" in the media because "something needs to be offered to Ukraine that will remain there".
According to Zatulin, Russia cannot stop the war: "If we cease fire now, it will be the defeat of the idea, the plan that was there at the very beginning."
Zatulin believes that the Russian army needs to reach the frontiers from where Ukrainian weapons would not reach Donetsk and Luhansk and that it is necessary to "cut Ukraine off from the sea and thus remove the threat for Crimea, the Caucasus and everything else".
Zatulin said that he would be happy if Ukraine did not exist, but if Russia wants Ukraine to be on its side, it cannot keep saying that Ukraine and Ukrainians do not exist. In his opinion, the Russian Federation should not abandon its intentions but conduct "intelligent propaganda" through "proper behaviour and better attitude towards those who find themselves on our territory".
Two United Russia party sources and a source close to the Russian presidential administration told Vedomosti that after Zatulin's speech, the party began consultations. Zatulin is not a member of the party but is a member of its faction in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the parliament.
Among the options being discussed are the removal of Zatulin from his position as first deputy head of the Duma committee and his expulsion from the Duma United Russia party. It is possible that Zatulin will only be "talked to by the faction's leadership so that he will be more careful in his future statements".
Zatulin told Vedomosti that no one from the faction's leadership had contacted him: "Why would I lose my position in the committee or be expelled from the faction? The faction leadership has not told me anything."
On his Telegram channel, Zatulin wrote that at the forum, he said that the goals of the "military special operation", as Russia calls its war against Ukraine, had not been achieved so far, and then went on to say what needed to be done to achieve these goals.