Efforts can now focus on “liberating Donbass”, a senior defense official said.
The Russian armed forces have completed the “first stage” of their mission in Ukraine, according to a senior military commander, who claimed that kyiv’s combat potential had been severely diminished after a month of fighting.
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy said Moscow had achieved its goals for the first stage of its military operation in Ukraine, adding that this would allow it to devote full attention to the region of Donbass.
“In general, the main tasks of the first stage of the operation have been completed,” he added. said Rudskoy, who is chief of the main operational directorate of the Russian army. “The combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces has been significantly reduced, which allows us… to concentrate our efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.”
The official noted that the Ukrainian forces have prepared a “well-fortified defensive area” in the breakaway region over a period of eight years. He said Russian troops are isolating major railway stations to cut off military supplies such as fuel and ammunition as well as troop supplies, which are almost completely cut off.
In a rare update on combat casualties, Rudskoy also announced that 1,351 Russian servicemen died in hostilities, with another 3,825 wounded. Ukraine, meanwhile, claims to have killed some 16,000 Russian soldiers and destroyed hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery guns. Although Kyiv has not offered casualty estimates for its own soldiers since mid-March – when it said 1,300 had died – the colonel-general cited a much higher figure of 30,000 for those killed. and the injured.
Thousands of foreign fighters have poured into the battlefield since Russia sent troops to Ukraine in late February. Some 23,000 volunteers from 37 countries have expressed interest in the fight, Rudskoy said. But Donbass officials refused these offers, he added. Ukrainian officials have offered a similar estimate for its own newly created Foreign Legion, with Ukrainian Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov putting the number at over 20,000.
Russia’s military operation followed a seven-year stalemate over kyiv’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s subsequent recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Minsk Protocol negotiated by Germany and France was designed to regularize the status of the two regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Although Kyiv has indicated some willingness to stay out of the US-led military bloc, he insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims he plans to resume the military. two republics by force.
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