Andriy Zagorodnyuk—who served as Ukraine’s defense minister from 2019 to 2020 and is now an adviser to the defense ministry—told attendees at a Chatham House think tank conference in London on Thursday that Kyiv’s forces have no intention of marching on Moscow, but that there can be no meaningful negotiations with Putin or his allies in the Kremlin.

“We need to free our territory, that would be for us a massive, massive achievement,” Zagorodnyuk said. “And that’s where we’re going. We’re not going to compromise on that, because any compromise will mean that there will be a continuation of the war.”

“We’re not planning to march in Moscow, at least for the moment,” he added. “I’m sure there will be a democratic coalition marching in Moscow together with democratic Russians, one day. Because the Russian regime as it is right now will go away. It has no chance to stand.”

Vladimir Putin during Dagestan working visit
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting during a trip to Russia’s Republic of Dagestan on June 28, 2023. The Russian dictator is grappling with a stalled invasion of Ukraine and growing domestic tensions.GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

“We should not be afraid of victory,” Zagorodnyuk said, urging NATO nations to see Ukraine’s battle-hardened army as an “absolutely irreplaceable” asset in the West’s deepening confrontation with Moscow.

The regular Russian military was confronted with a war on two fronts last week, as its troops simultaneously defended against the long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive and grappled with a sudden rebellion led by Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose forces briefly threatened a march on Moscow in an effort to unseat Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Prigozhin later reportedly accepted an offer to relocate to Belarus, with his Wagner fighters given the chance to join him or to sign contracts with the regular Russian military. Still, this week reports have emerged from Russia that Wagner is still recruiting.

Putin avoided civil war, but his refusal or inability to visit retribution on the oligarch turned warlord hints at a precarious political position already undermined by repeated incursions into Russian territory by Kyiv-aligned rebel Russian fighters.

Gary Kasparov, the chess grandmaster who has become a leading voice for the pro-democratic Russian diaspora, told Thursday’s Chatham House conference that the trajectory of the war in Ukraine doesn’t favor the Russian dictator.

“Putin is going downhill now,” Kasparov said, suggesting that a Ukrainian military victory could precipitate a new Russian revolution.

“The Ukrainian flag raising in Sevastopol is the beginning of the liberation of Russia from Putin’s fascism,” Kasparov said, referring to Kyiv’s hoped for liberation of Crimea.

“Imagine that after a Ukrainian victory you have a quarter of a million of angry Russian men crossing the border going east,” Kasparov added.

“Removing Putin and building democracy, hopefully, in Russia is the business of Russians, but again, nothing will happen in Russia before Ukraine wins. So that’s why for us the top priority is making sure Ukraine wins.”

Newsweek has contacted the Russian foreign ministry by email to request comment.

Ukrainian tankers pictured on the Donetsk front
Ukrainian servicemen are pictured in their T-72 tank at a position in the Donetsk region on June 25, 2023. Andriy Zagorodnyuk said NATO should see Ukrainian forces as an “absolutely irreplaceable asset.”GENYA SAVILOV/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES”