Ukraine Updates: Russian Commander Says Moscow Wants ‘Full Control’ Over Eastern and Southern Ukraine
Russian commander: “One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine.”
After nearly two months of fighting, Moscow appears to be getting close to capturing its first big Ukrainian city as Russian forces advance on the final pockets of resistance in the port city of Mariupol.
“The Azovstal steel and ironworks is the last stand for Ukrainian troops inside the besieged city of Mariupol, which is now almost entirely occupied by Russian forces,” UK’s SkyNews reported Saturday. “Ukraine’s presidential adviser has now said Russian forces are trying to conduct operations to storm the Azovstal plant and have resumed airstrikes,” the broadcaster added.
Ukrainian authorities are trying to evacuate the last remaining civilians from the Azovstal industrial area. “Up to 1,000 civilians have taken refuge in the warren-like network of service tunnels and utility passages that lie beneath the plant,” the British daily Telegraph reported.
The fall of Mariupol will create a secure land corridor between the Russian-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Russian Commander: Moscow Wants ‘Full Control’ Over Southern, Eastern Ukraine
Russian forces also seek to capture the entire southern coast of Ukraine, cutting off the country’s access to the sea, and creating another corridor connecting Russia to Transnistria, a pro-Moscow breakaway region in the eastern European country of Moldova, Russian military sources say.
“Russia is aiming to take full control of southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region,” the BBC reported Saturday, quoting a senior Russian general.
The French news agency AFP reported Kremlin’s military objectives in southern and eastern Ukraine:
Hopes for a weekend truce in Ukraine to celebrate the Orthodox Easter faded with talks between Moscow and Kyiv stalled as Russia said it aimed to take full control over the east and south of its neighbour.
The war enters its third month on Sunday but a senior Russian military officer said “the second phase of the special operation” — as Moscow terms its invasion of Ukraine — had just begun.
“One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine,” Major General Rustam Minnekaev said on Friday.
Russian forces, which withdrew from around Kyiv and the north of Ukraine after being frustrated in their attempts to take over the capital, already occupy much of the eastern Donbas region and the south.
Minnekaev said their focus was now to “provide a land corridor to Crimea,” which Russia annexed in 2014, and towards a breakaway pro-Russian region of Moldova, Transnistria, where the general claimed Russian-speaking people were “being oppressed”. (…)
The Kremlin has claimed the “liberation” of Mariupol, which is pivotal to its war plans nearly two months after President Vladimir Putin ordered the shock invasion of Russia’s Western-leaning neighbour.
Russian Missiles Hit Port City Odesa
The Russian military is training its sight on the southern port city of Odesa. On Saturday, several Russian missiles landed on the city. The missiles barrage hit a logistics terminal and residential blocks, news reports say. According to Ukrainian government sources, five civilians were killed and 18 injured in the strike.
The aim of the missile strike was to “destroy a logistics terminal in Odesa where a large number of weapons supplied by the United States and European nations were being stored, the [Russia] defence ministry said,” Reuters reported. The attack comes weeks after Russia declared U.S. and European military shipments to Ukraine as legitimate military targets.
Odesa is key to Western military supplies going to the besieged country. The port city is also believed to be the staging ground for the missile strike that sank Russia’s Black Sea flagship “Moskva” on April 14. The sinking of the Soviet-era missile cruiser angered the Kremlin, which responded by hitting Ukrainian capital Kyiv with missiles and airstrike.
UN Says 5.2 million Refugees Displaced By Russian Invasion
The Russian invasion has driven millions of Ukrainians from their homes, the United Nations says. According to UN’s estimates, more than five million Ukrainians have been displace, with close to three million seeking refuge in neighboring Poland.
The German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported UN refugee figures:
5,163,686 refugees have been displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. By far the largest number, 2,884,764, have crossed into neighboring Poland.
In April alone, 1,128,000 Ukrainians left the country, compared with 3.4 million in March.
Of those who fled, women and children account for 90%. Men between the age of 18 and 60 are unable to leave as they are needed to help with the military effort to repel Russia’s invasion.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates more than 7.7 million people are also considered internally displaced in Ukraine.
Unlike the migrant wave of 2015, when millions of men from North Africa and the Middle East swarmed Europe, the overwhelming number of refugees from Ukraine are women and children.DONATE
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