A potential demilitarized zone in Ukraine would be unfeasible as long as Russian troops continue to operate in Ukraine, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Feb. 1.
Miller was responding to a comment reported by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in which Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested creating a "demilitarized" or "sanitary" zone in Ukraine that would put Russian territory and illegally occupied parts of Ukraine out of range of Ukrainian weapons.
Putin included the city of Kharkiv within the proposed demilitarized zone. The notion of territorial concessions in exchange for peace is already highly unpopular among Ukrainians.
The prospect of allowing Ukraine's second-largest city to be in a potential Russian-designated demilitarized zone is even more unlikely.
Miller emphasized that "Putin has made clear over and over again that he has not changed his aims to conquer and subjugate Ukraine."
"If Russia really wanted to show interest in a demilitarized zone, the thing they could do is start by demilitarizing the parts of Ukraine where there are currently Russian forces," he added.
The ISW argued that Putin's proposed demilitarized zone was not a serious suggestion.
It was on the contrary, a rhetorical method to capitalize on "existing narratives in Western media" that question the longevity of Western aid for Ukraine and seek to "compel the West to negotiate with Russia on Russian terms."
The proposed demilitarized zone "is a vague goal that is actually unattainable as long as there is an independent Ukraine with any ability to fight," the ISW added.