Russia said on Friday that it now wanted to focus its efforts on “liberating” eastern Ukraine and acknowledged the deaths of 1,351 of its soldiers since the start of its military offensive in Ukraine.
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The main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been achieved. The combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been significantly reduced, which allows (…) to focus the bulk of efforts on the main goal: the liberation of Donbass, ”said Major Russian Deputy Head of State Sergei Rudskoy.
The main developments of Russia were in eastern and southern Ukraine, but they did not conquer major cities.
France Press agency
Ukraine’s Donbas River has been partly under the control of pro-Russian separatists since 2014. Before the February 24 attack, Russia recognized its independence, and began its military intervention with the official goal of protecting them from the “genocide” orchestrated by the Ukrainian authorities.
The Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff announced during a press briefing that “1351 soldiers were killed and 3,825 were wounded.”
The previous official report from Moscow, dated March 2, announced that 498 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. Kyiv, for its part, reported much greater losses in the ranks of the Russian army.
Mr. Rudskoy also described the delivery of weapons to Kyiv by Western countries as a “fatal mistake”. He declared that it “prolongs the conflict and increases the number of victims and will not have any impact on the outcome of the operation.”
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He added that Russia would “respond accordingly” if NATO establishes a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Kyiv has been calling for several weeks without success.
At the same meeting, Mikhail Mizintsev, director of the Russian National Defense Administration Center, said that Russia has separately received 419,736 refugees from eastern Ukraine since the operation began.
“The Russian army will continue to carry out this special military operation until all goals are achieved,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
The Kremlin said it wanted to “discredit” and “disarm” its pro-Western neighbor.
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