Ukraine said Sunday that Russia, whose troops have been slowly advancing towards the capital Kyiv, may aim to divide the country into versions of North and South Korea.
Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Defence Intelligence, said in a statement on social media that the strategy could result from President Vladimir Putin’s failure to “capture Kyiv and remove Ukraine’s government”.
“There are reasons to believe that he may try to impose a separation line between the occupied and unoccupied regions of our country. In fact, it will be an attempt to set up South and North Koreas in Ukraine,” Budanov said.
The two Koreas are still technically at war after a 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, sealing the division of their peninsula with an impenetrable border.
Their border is a four-kilometre-wide (2.4-mile) by 248 kilometre-long area known as the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).
Russia signaled earlier this week it may dial back its war aims to focus on eastern Ukraine after failing to break the nation’s resistance in a month of fighting and attacks on civilians.
“The invaders will try to set up some quasi-state as an alternative to independent Ukraine,” Budanov said.
“We can see attempts to set up ‘parallel’ local governments in occupied areas and to force people to give up the Ukrainian currency,” he added.
Budanov said Russia may try to use the status of occupied territory as a bargaining chip at negotiations.
Moscow’s month-long assault on its pro-democracy neighbour has largely stalled with no major recent advances and Ukrainian forces even able to counterattack in places.