The only way for Russia to ensure lasting peace with Ukraine is to push back the borders of hostile states, even as far as the frontiers of NATO member Poland, said former President Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, made the comments in a message on his Telegram account on Friday, a year after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it called a “special military operation” to protect Russian speakers and ensure its own security.
“Victory will be achieved. We all want it to happen as soon as possible. And that day will come,” said Medvedev. He predicted that tough negotiations with Ukraine and the West would culminate in “some kind of agreement”.
But he said that deal would lack “fundamental agreements on real borders” and not amount to an overarching European security pact, making it vital for Russia to extend its borders now.
“That is why it is so important to achieve all the goals of the special military operation. To push back the borders that threaten our country as far as possible, even if they are the borders of Poland,” said Medvedev.
Poland shares long eastern borders with Ukraine and with Russia’s ally Belarus, and a frontier of some 200km (125 miles) in its northeastern corner with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Any encroachment on Poland’s borders would bring Russia for the first time into direct conflict with NATO.
US President Joe Biden pledged in a speech in Warsaw this week to defend “every inch” of NATO territory if it was attacked.
Medvedev, 57, has adopted an increasingly hawkish tone and made a series of outspoken interventions since the war began, with some political analysts suggesting he is one of the people that President Vladimir Putin might one day consider as a successor.
In his state-of-the-nation speech earlier this week, the Russian president announced the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty with the US and blamed the government in Kyiv for taking the Ukrainian people “hostage” and failing to address their needs.
“They [Ukrainian government] intend to transform a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation,” Putin said on Tuesday. This is exactly how we understand it all, and we will react accordingly because, in this case, we are talking about the existence of our country.”