Russia has 'no plans’ to take over Ukraine – Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russia had "no plans to occupy the Ukrainian territories" after announcing that a special operation had been launched to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics from “Ukrainian aggression.”
The operation’s ultimate goal is “to protect the people who have been subjected for eight years to genocide by the Kiev regime,” Putin said in an address on Thursday morning, adding that Moscow would “embark on a demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and handing over to justice those who committed numerous atrocities against civilians.”
The Russian president noted, however, that Moscow harbors no far-reaching plans to take over the whole territory of Ukraine.
“We do not have plans to occupy Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force,” he said. Kiev's forces have maintained control over swathes of territory claimed by Donetsk and Lugansk.
Ukraine has been accusing Moscow of illegally occupying Crimea, which was reabsorbed by Russia following a referendum in March 2014, following a US-backed coup that overthrew the elected government in Kiev.
Kiev has also repeatedly accused Russia of having a military presence in Donbass, although Moscow has consistently denied this claim.