Putin will decide when Ukraine offensive ends – Kremlin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has set the targets for the country’s military attack against Ukraine and he will decide when the operation ends “based on results and expediency,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.
The operation “has its goals and they need to be achieved,” the official said, when asked by journalists when the offensive would end.
In his Thursday morning address, Putin said he’d ordered Russian troops to attack Ukraine to demilitarize and, as he put it, “denazify” the country. He claimed Russia’s national security was compromised by NATO encroachment in Ukraine.
He further stated that Russia was duty-bound to protect the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk from continued attacks by the Ukrainian forces. Moscow recognized the two entities as sovereign states on Monday.
Russia is determined to “neutralize the [Ukrainian] military potential, which was boosted considerably lately, including with the active assistance of foreign nations,” Peskov said.
He added that “ideally” Ukraine needs to be “cleansed” from neo-Nazi ideology.
Peskov rejected the idea that Russia was in the process of occupying Ukraine, saying the Russian operation had limited goals of protecting Russia and the separatist regions. He said the future of Ukraine will be determined by the Ukrainian people.
The Russian military launched a massive attack against Ukraine on Putin’s order right after his televised address. The defense ministry said it was targeting elements of the Ukrainian military infrastructure and sought to avoid civilian casualties. Multiple reports from the ground said apparent Russian strikes throughout Ukraine have caused damage to military bases, weapons depots and some arms factories.