Putin’s Next Big Move Goes Public

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who just secured another six-year term in office, said he was considering creating a buffer zone been Ukraine and the Russian-held territories in the east, The Hill reported.

At a March 17 press conference following his landslide election victory, Putin lashed out at Kyiv for launching attacks on Russian soil and said he had discussed with Kremlin officials a plan to create a “sanitary zone” in Ukraine territories controlled by Kyiv to protect Russians along the border.

Putin did not specify how these “sanitary zones” would work.

Ukraine has been launching attacks in Russian border regions like Belgorod since the conflict began two years ago.

Russia currently controls four eastern territories in Ukraine, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine has launched attacks on those territories, as well as Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014.

People in the Russian-occupied territories in eastern Ukraine participated in this year’s election, often under the watchful eye of armed soldiers.

In his press conference, Putin boasted that voter turnout in the occupied territories was strong, which he suggested was proof that the people wanted to be part of Russia.

Putin also publicly acknowledged the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, saying that death was a part of life and nothing could be done about it.

Last Monday, Putin confirmed that there had been negotiations to include Navalny in a prisoner swap and claimed that he agreed to the swap before Navalny’s death.

However, the Moscow Times reported that the Kremlin later clarified Putin’s comments, saying the Russian president was only referring to the idea of a proposed swap and no negotiations were underway at the time of Navalny’s death.

Putin’s election to a fifth term in office brings him one step closer to becoming the longest-serving president in over 200 years.