Apr 22, 2022 - World

Russia says it wants to capture Donbas and southern Ukraine

A destroyed house in the village of Yatskivka in the Donbas region of Ukraine on April 16.
A destroyed house in the village of Yatskivka in the Donbas region of Ukraine on April 16. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

Russia plans to achieve full control of southern Ukraine and the country's Donbas region, the deputy commander of Russia's central military district said Friday, per the Russian state news agency TASS.

Why it matters: The objectives laid out by Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekayev are a detailed look into what Russia hopes to achieve in the next phase of its invasion. So far, its goals have been mercurial and extremely broad.

Russia withdrew from the Kyiv region and northern Ukraine in early April after Ukrainian forces repelled its offensive there.

What they're saying: Minnekayev said in a statement published by TASS that the Russian military fully control the Donbas in order "to establish a ground corridor to Crimea and to gain influence over the vitally-important Ukrainian [military] facilities, the Black Sea ports, which service deliveries of the agricultural and metallurgical products to other countries."

  • Minnekayev also claimed that controlling southern Ukraine would give Russia "another way out to Transnistria," referring to the unrecognized breakaway state internationally recognized as part of Moldova.

The big picture: Russia's repositioning toward the Donbas has given Ukraine time to prepare for the offensive and allowed for more foreign military aid to trickle into the country.

  • The Donbas' flat and wide-open terrain is expected to favor Russia's heavily mechanized forces, though spring rains could delay their movements.
  • Its recent shift away from assaulting the last of Ukraine's forces in the port city of Mariupol is likely to free up troops for the next offensive.

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