Russia's goal to change Europe's security architecture has not been altered by the war in Ukraine so far, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Jonatan Vseviov said in an interview on Friday.
Senior Russian officials said late last week that their goal in Ukraine has changed. After a month of waging war across the country and especially around the capital Kyiv, forces will be withdrawn and redeployed to the east of the country. NATO has said it is skeptical of Russia's plans.
Vseviov told ETV's interview show "Esimene stuudio" on Friday that Russia has not given up its objectives in Ukraine and the "strategic goals of the Putin regime have remained unchanged".
"The opposite can be said," the senior official told presenter Johannes Tralla, adding the military is now regrouping and will try different tactics.
He said Russia's military goals "have not been realized" and not only those related to Ukraine.
"At the end of last year, Russia's goals, which were written down for us, clearly said that they wanted to change the basic principles of Europe's security architecture. At least the part that has joined NATO since 1997, ie Estonia, the Baltics, Poland and Eastern Europe," he said.
Last December, Russia said NATO forces should be withdrawn from countries that joined the alliance after 1997, meaning countries on NATO's eastern flank.
Vseviov said it is not assumed the Russians will withdraw from Kyiv feeling satisfied with their achievements. It's all part of a bigger plan, he said.
"For some time, the threat of a siege of Kyiv will disappear, but with long-range attacks it will be possible to continue to keep Kyiv out of balance and not only Kyiv – we have seen [attacks] as far away as Lviv [in western Ukraine]. But the bigger land operation will now probably move to southern and eastern Ukraine. The strategic goals will probably not change. Russia is trying to achieve a breakthrough there, to destroy the troops important to Ukraine, in order to impose a new status quo, a new peace [deal] through negotiations," Vseviov said.
The secretary general said Russia must lose in Ukraine because anything else will allow the country to continue with its goals.
"Maybe not immediately – maybe in six months, in a year, maybe not immediately by military means or with sanctions imposed for special operations," he said. "Therefore, what is happening in Ukraine is important, not only for Ukraine and Putin's regime, but for all of us – this aggression must end there."
Vseviov said Russia's diplomacy at the peace negotiations with Ukraine is not worth taking seriously and he is skeptical an agreement can be reached between both sides – especially one that guarantees Ukraine's integrity, sovereignty and security.
"And this is mainly because I have not seen anything to suggest that Russia has abandoned its goals," Vseviov said.
Editor: Helen Wright