Russia revealed that the goal of the invasion of Ukraine was to gain “full authority” over southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region.
The statement by a top military official marks the first time Russia has admitted it is fighting to establish a land corridor through Ukraine that connects Russia with Crimea, a peninsula it annexed in 2014 .
“Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation, which began two days ago, one of the tasks of the Russian military has been to establish full control of the Donbas and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor for Crimea,” Major General Rustam Minnekaev, acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District, said according to TASS, a Russian state news agency.
Minnekaev, speaking at the annual joint meeting of the Union of Defense-Industrial Enterprises of the Sverdlovsk region, was quoted by TASS as saying that the aim was to create a land corridor between Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and Crimea.
He added that control over southern Ukraine would allow Russian forces access to Transnistria, a breakaway region in Moldova where a Russian army has been stationed since the early 1990s.
Russian forces currently control only a part of southern Ukraine, while the Ukrainian government still controls the key cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa and some Ukrainian forces are stationed in a steel mill in the besieged port. fin. Mariupol.
In recent weeks, Russia has withdrawn its forces in northern Ukraine following its failure to capture Kyiv, with Russian military officials claiming that their strategic goals have shifted to capturing the entire eastern region. Donbas.
Asked by reporters on Friday to explain in detail what southern Ukraine means, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment and referred questions to the Defense Ministry.
Ukrainian authorities have in recent days warned that Russian forces occupying the city of Kherson, southern Ukraine are planning to hold a mock referendum to declare a so-called “Communist” Kherson People’s Republic” in the coming days, reflecting the establishment of Russian-backed breakaway republics in the Donbas. in 2014, setting the stage for the February 24 invasion of Russia.