Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia’s military objectives now extend beyond Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region

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 (Luhansk 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 shoot down 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.

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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,” Mr. Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said it was currently “pointless” to hold talks with Ukraine, in an interview with Russian state newspaper Russia Today on Wednesday.

He accused the West of pushing Ukraine to refrain from negotiating until it could “start speaking from a position of strength”.

Lavrov claimed that Russia was ready to make a deal with Ukraine, but nothing came of it.

“We handed them a document which, I emphasize again, was based on their logic,” Lavrov said in the interview, which was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website. “They received this document on April 15, and we haven’t heard from them since.”

“But we have heard other things, from Scholz, from Boris Johnson who obviously does not say it now, from Ursula von der Leyen and many others, including the head of diplomacy Borrell, that Ukraine must win on the battlefield, that Ukraine must not negotiate now because it is in a weak position on the front line, and that Ukraine must first improve this position and start dominating the armed forces Russians, Donetsk and Luhansk militias, and only then start talking from a position of strength,” Lavrov said.

“I think that kind of talk is for the birds, as they say,” he added.

CNN’s Rob Picheta, Tim Lister, Kostan Nechyporenko and Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.


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