Vladimir Putin has been planning for the past decade a plan to spark a major war in the Baltic region, a former adviser to the Russian president said, with the invasion of Ukraine and capture of Crimea the first step.
Speaking at a conference in Lithuania, former presidential adviser Andrey Illarionov said Putin has been planning for a major war since at least 2003.
Illarionov referred to a 2008 article from Russian Journal that outlined a plan for Russia to attack Crimea, moving westward until the capital of Kiev was captured.
"As we see, not only were they preparing, they were publishing it," Illarionov said.
The former adviser noted that in the past Vladimir Putin said Ukraine is not a real nation, but instead a state that has historically belonged to Russia as well as Hungary, Poland, and Romania. He notes that the latest conflict was sparked when Putin started talking about the "Russian world" during a ceremony honoring Slavic groups.
As the Lithuanian Tribune noted, Putin may have plans to invade nations beyond Ukraine.
According to the former presidential adviser, Russian laws essentially define four categories of 'Russians': ethnic Russians, irrespective of whether they reside in or outside Russia; Russian-speakers, irrespective of their nationality; all former citizens of the Soviet Union and their offspring living in the territories formerly covered by the USSR; and former citizens of the Russian Empire (pre-1917) and their offspring living in the territories once covered by the Russian Empire.
"'Such a legal base allows the Russian army to protect all the Russians listed in the law. Therefore, for the Russian side, such actions of the Russian army beyond Russian borders might seem completely legitimate,' Illarionov says."
There have been past reports that Vladimir Putin plans to spark a wide conflict. Earlier reports claimed that he threatened to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if the fight continued, and sources say he boasted that Russia could reach Kiev in two weeks if they wanted to.
[Image via The Daily Mail]