Conflicting signals are coming from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv about the war aims against the Russian invaders.

"For Ukraine, the realistic minimum is that Russian forces withdraw to the borders that were in effect before February 24," said Yuriy Sak, adviser to Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, on Tuesday in the ARD morning show.

"Of course, this war of aggression against Ukraine started in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula," Sak said.

The return of Crimea is an issue “that needs to be negotiated diplomatically.

The main objective now is to ensure that the Russian aggressors and war criminals retreat beyond the February 24 line.”

Nicholas Zimmerman

Editor in Politics.

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The head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service made a fundamentally different statement.

"Access to our administrative borders will be the end of our war," Kyrylo Budanov said in an interview with the news portal Ukrayinska Pravda.

That means retaking Crimea and Donbass.

Defensive battle defended in Mariupol

As early as mid-May, Budanov told the British broadcaster Sky News that Ukraine would regain control of all areas by the end of the year, including the Crimean peninsula.

The turning point in the war came in the second half of August, he said at the time.

In the interview on Tuesday, the military intelligence chief reinforced this forecast.

By August, the number of weapons delivered from abroad will reach a "significant quantity," Budanov said.

But there is still a “catastrophic shortage of heavy weapons”.

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy distanced himself from his military intelligence chief in a video call with the American news portal “Axios” on Tuesday night.

"I like General Budanov," Zelenskyy replied wittily to a corresponding question.

"I like him very much." However, the Ukrainian president then made it clear that he considered the possible costs of recapturing Crimea to be far too high: "I think that will mean hundreds of thousands of casualties on our side."

Jurij Sak, adviser to the Ukrainian Defense Minister, also referred to President Zelenskyj in his statements to the ARD morning show.

At the same time, Sak defended the defensive struggle on the premises of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol that had been abandoned last week: “The main goal was achieved in Mariupol.

It was to hold back the Russian troops.” This would have prevented Russian troops from conquering other areas in eastern Ukraine, Sak explained.

Azovstal fighters gave Ukrainians time to regroup and receive more military aid from their international partners.