Russian senior commander: Russia intends to take ‘full control’ of southern Ukraine
A Russian senior military commander said that “one of the goals” of a new phase in the Russia-Ukraine conflict would be taking “full control of the Donbas and southern Ukraine,” The New York Times reported.
In his remarks, which were made during a defense industry meeting, Gen. Rustam Minnekayev said that Russia is vying to capture Ukrainian land running to Ukraine’s southern neighbor, Moldova.
He said it would help Russia gain access to the separatist Moldovan enclave of Transnistria and “influence critical elements of the Ukrainian economy” by blocking some of Kyiv’s access to the Black Sea, the Times noted, citing Russian media.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov would not comment during a press briefing with reporters over the phone regarding whether the Russian general was indicating further goals of Russia over its conflict than Moscow had previously made public, the newspaper noted.
The development comes as Russia launches a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine following failed attempts at seizing the capital city of Kyiv.
Ukrainian forces are still holding out against Russia in Mariupol, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has already claimed victory.
The mayor of Mariupol has called for a full evacuation of the city, and Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has urged the international community to help secure a humanitarian corridor for those fleeing from the Azovstal steel plant.
A European official predicted earlier this week that Mariupol’s fall to the Russians was imminent, saying “Mariupol will be controlled in the coming days.”
The official signaled concern that the situation in the port city could be worse than that of Bucha.
“The Russians will continue to use artillery and bombings, and at the same time they will push civilians out of the city. So at the end of the day, we do expect a complete destruction of the city and many civilian casualties in Mariupol,” the official noted.
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