Russia committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon European-Atlantic orientation: UK

Russia remains focused on forcing Ukraine to give up its Western orientation, according to British military intelligence, despite Moscow shifting its operational focus to eastern Ukraine.

“Though Russia’s operational focus has shifted to eastern Ukraine, Russia’s ultimate objective remains the same. It is committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation and asserting its own regional dominance,” the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

The ministry also said that Russian forces “continue to redeploy combat and support equipment from Belarus towards eastern Ukraine,” adding that Russian artillery “continues to strike Ukrainian positions throughout the east of the country where Russia plans to renew its offensive activity.”

The intelligence assessment comes in the seventh week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia’s initial offensive was directed at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but Moscow appears to have shifted its focus in recent weeks.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in early April said the Biden administration believed Russia was repositioning its troops in Ukraine to focus its efforts on the eastern Donbas region. The apparent move by Russia came after its invasion stalled in a number of areas because of staunch Ukrainian opposition.

Sullivan said the U.S. believed that Russia was “repositioning its forces to concentrate its offensive operations in eastern and parts of southern Ukraine rather than target most of the territory.”

The determination that Russia was repositioning its troops came after Moscow in late March said it would “drastically reduce military activity” near Kyiv and Chernihiv, which are located near the Belarusian border. The Pentagon, however, said the move was a “repositioning” and “not a real withdrawal.”

Russian forces currently appear to be pressuring Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol to surrender, according to Reuters. Moscow, which has been targeting the Ukrainian city, said it is almost in control of the area.

Ukrainians, however, do not appear to be complying with the Russians, the news service reported.

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