Russia says it wants to capture Donbas and southern Ukraine
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.
- Minnekayev's statement, and recent comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin, indicate that Russia has no intention of de-escalatng its war.
Russia withdrew from the Kyiv region and northern Ukraine in early April after Ukrainian forces repelled its offensive there.
- Since then, the Kremlin has repositioned troops and military equipment to the Donbas in preparation for a major military offensive there.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the long-awaited offensive in the Donbas region began earlier this week.
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 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.