Russia’s objectives in Ukraine now extend beyond the eastern region of Donbass in the south of the country, a senior government minister has said.
As the war in Ukraine nears its fifth month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state media that “the geography is different”.
“It’s far from just DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LPR (Lugansk People’s Republic), it’s also Kherson region, Zaporizhzhia region and a number of other territories, and this process continues, it continues steadily and persistently,” Lavrov said. in an interview with RIA Novosti, published on Wednesday.
Lavrov’s remarks signal the Kremlin’s refocused approach to the war in Ukraine.
Just three months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin shifted his military efforts to the east of the country after failing to capture Kyiv.
When Russian forces followed Putin’s order and captured the last town in the Luhansk region still in Ukrainian hands – Lysychansk – earlier this month, their next move was to be in the neighboring Donetsk region.
If Donetsk were to fall, Moscow would invade the entire Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, home to separatist factions backed by Russia since 2014.
However, recently supplied HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) by the United States, worth $400 million, have enhanced the Ukrainian military’s ability to strike Russian targets – an important factor that caused new problems in Moscow.
Earlier this month there were huge explosions in several occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. Available evidence, from satellite imagery and Western analysts, shows that the targeting was very effective.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, repeated calls for more HIMARS weapons on Ukrainian television on Wednesday.
“Direct threat”: Lavrov said that as the West continues to supply Ukraine with more long-range weapons, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Russia’s geographic targets in Ukraine would move further away from the current line.
“We cannot allow any weapons into the part of Ukraine controlled by Zelensky or anyone who will replace him that poses a direct threat to our territory or the territory of the republics that have declared their independence or those that wish to determine their future independently.” , Lavrov said.
“The president was very clear, as you quoted: denazification and demilitarization in the sense that there should be no threat to our security, no military threat from Ukrainian territory, and that goal remains,” Lavrov said. .
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