In a bellicose presentation that suggested Russia’s military goals in Ukraine are far-reaching, Medvedev, who was Russia’s president from 2008-2012, praised the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and said Moscow would prosecute its “special military operation” until the Ukrainian leadership capitulated.

“One of Ukraine’s former leaders said at some point that Ukraine is not Russia,” Medvedev, a hawk who diplomats say gives a flavor of the thinking inside the Kremlin, told a youth forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

“That concept needs to disappear forever. Ukraine is definitely Russia,” he said to applause. “Historic parts of the country need to come home.”

There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Medvedev and other top Russian officials of waging an illegal war of conquest and said Ukraine and its people are distinct from Russia and Russians.


Medvedev was speaking in front of a giant map of Ukraine showing the country as a much smaller landlocked rump of land than its internationally recognized territory.

The map appeared to depict a scenario where Ukraine would be squeezed up against Poland, with Kyiv remaining its capital, but Russia would be in control of a swath of Ukrainian cities and its east, south and entire Black Sea coastline.

Russia has the initiative on the battlefield and controls just under one-fifth of Ukrainian territory, which it claims as its own, but the scenario is sharply different from the situation on the ground.

Peace talks ruled out

Medvedev, who the West once saw as a liberal reformer, said Russia’s “geostrategic space” was indivisible from Ukraine and that any attempt to change that by force was doomed.

“All our adversaries need to understand once and for all a simple fact: that the territories on both banks of the Dnipro River (which bisects Ukraine) are an integral part of Russia’s strategic and historical borders,” he said.


Medvedev ruled out peace talks with the current Ukrainian leadership. He said any future Ukrainian government that wanted talks would need to recognize what he called the new reality.

Commenting on East-West relations, Medvedev said ties between Moscow and Washington were now worse than during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when the two countries appeared on the brink of nuclear conflict.

“I will say one bitter thing,” he said. “The current situation is much worse than the one in 1962. This is a fully-fledged war against Russia with American weapons and with the participation of American special forces and American advisers. That’s how it is.”

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