Ukraine intel chief: Putin seeks ‘Korean scenario’ to divide neighbor permanently

Ukraine intel chief: Putin seeks ‘Korean scenario’ to divide neighbor permanently

The Ukrainian military’s top intelligence official said Russian forces are on the verge of shifting tactics toward trying to split Ukrainian territory the same way North and South Korea have been divided since the Korean war was frozen by an armistice nearly 70 years ago.

With Russia’s military failing to capture the capital of Kyiv or other major cities, Russian President Vladimir Putin is recalibrating his focus, according to Ukrainian Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, who was among the first to publicly predict Russia’s invasion plan months before it began.

“There are reasons to believe that he may try to impose a separation line between the occupied and unoccupied regions of our country,” Gen. Budanov said in a statement over the weekend, according to the U.S. government-backed outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“It will be an attempt to set up South and North Koreas in Ukraine,” Gen. Budanov said.

The Ukrainian military intelligence chief more generally predicted that Russia will attempt to consolidate its gains in eastern Ukraine — a largely Russian-speaking area with stronger economic and cultural ties to Russia — and pursue the establishment of a demilitarized zone, or DMZ, cordoning off the region because Mr. Putin “is definitely not able to swallow the entire country.”

“Putin is already changing the main operational directions – towards the south and the east,” Gen. Budanov said, according to another translation, by The Guardian. “There is reason to believe that he is considering a ‘Korean scenario’ for Ukraine.”

The comments, circulated Sunday on the Telegram social media portal, came as Russian and Ukrainian delegations were preparing to hold their first direct talks Tuesday in more than two weeks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said ahead of the talks that Kyiv was willing to consider a declaration of neutrality and offer security guarantees to secure peace if Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine.

In an interview with independent Russian media outlets on Sunday, Mr. Zelenskyy stressed that Ukraine’s priority is ensuring its sovereignty and its “territorial integrity” — preventing Russia from carving up the country.

Russian officials moved quickly to block the outlets from publishing the contents of the interview domestically.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.