British intel denies Lavrov's words about Russia's expansion of geographic scope of "military operation" in Ukraine
24 July, 2022

The British intelligence believes that establishing control over the currently captured lands of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts was almost certainly in the initial plans of the Russian occupiers, and not the "expansion of geographical tasks" through the supply of western weapons to Ukraine, as the Kremlin maintains, the latest report published by the British Ministry of Defense states.

This comes after on July 20 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, stated that the "geographic tasks of the Russian special operation" have changed and are now not limited to the self-proclaimed "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk. On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a "special operation of the Russian Federation" due to the appeal of the leaders of "L/DPR" and even assured that "the occupation of Ukraine is not included in the plans of the Russian Federation."

However, Lavrov threatened to "expand the geographical tasks of the Russian Federation" if Western countries continue to help Ukraine.

"When there was a meeting of negotiators in Istanbul, there was one geography. Our readiness to accept the Ukrainian offer was based on the geography of the end of March 2022. Now the geography is different. This is not only "L/DPR", it is also Kherson Oblast, Zaporizhzhia Oblast and a number of other territories [...] As the West pumps Ukraine with more and more long-range weapons, these HIMARS [...] well, that means geographically tasks will expand," Lavrov said.

British intelligence believes that Russia is not "expanding its war", because maintaining long-term control over the currently captured territories was almost certainly the original goal of the Russian invasion, and Lavrov made these comments to "pave the way" for pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories outside of Luhansk and Donetsk.

According to the agency, against this background, Russian offensive actions in Donbas are "small-scale" and are focused on the Bakhmut axis, however – even there – they are making minimal progress.