Vladimir Putin on February 24 ordered a three-front invasion of Ukraine “to demilitarize and defame the country”. A month later, his forces take a turn with unexpected consequences and assure that the main objective is something more concrete for a potential future peace deal: taking only the Donbass region, which the separatists already controlled since 2014. Was. Individual groups successfully fulfill the assigned tasks, our army and means will focus on the main thing: the complete liberation of the Donbass, ”the First Deputy Chief of the General Staff, General Sergei Rudskoy, said at a briefing this Friday.
At the end of February a trident launched an operation on Ukraine called “Special Military Operation for the Security of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics”. A section of the Russian armed forces tried to reach Kyiv from the north, even from a third country, Belarus, in a lightning strike from Chernobyl, the fastest route. In the east, another front was opened with the support of militias and private contractors operating in the separatist area. And to the south, from the Republic of Crimea, another attack has sought to unite the Black Sea peninsula with the Donbass, giving rise to one of the bloodiest battles of the conflict: the Siege of Mariupol.
Despite supposedly limiting their offensive to the Donbass, Russian armed forces held the card for continuing into the interior of Ukraine and attempted to capture cities such as Kyiv and Kharkov, bombarded for weeks. “Initially, we did not plan to storm cities to prevent their destruction and minimize losses among personnel and civilians, but we do not exclude that possibility,” Rudskoy said.
The purpose of this campaign has varied from phase to phase of the war. On 18 March, President Putin gave a speech at a rally-concert held at the stadium for the World Cup final in Russia, which had a capacity of 81,300 seats. Besieged by the masses, the president assured that “the main objective of the military operation in the Donbass and in Ukraine is to free the population from genocide.” However, on 25 February, the second day of the war, he urged the Ukrainian military to stage a coup because it would be easier to negotiate with them than a “narcotics and neo-Nazis government”. Other excuses used by the Kremlin are the hypothetical threat that Ukraine’s accession to NATO would stand for Crimea, and once the conflict advanced, an alleged development of biological weapons financed by the United States as targets of a Slavic ethnic group. . Washington vehemently denied this, assuring that its laboratories were dedicated only to early detection of potential pandemic outbreaks, as was the case with African swine fever in Ukraine in 2012 and 2018.
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During the weeks of talks between the two sides, the Russian delegation has emphasized three key demands: Ukraine should adopt a position of neutrality that distances it from the West and NATO; It should recognize the unification of Crimea as part of Russia; And the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk should assume independence.
According to official figures presented by Rudskoi, the Russian Defense Ministry also this Friday announced the second casualty of the war so far: 1,351 dead and 3,825 wounded. The general assured that Ukrainians “no longer have reserves and cover their losses with personnel without the capability of regional security.”
According to the Russian General Staff, its rivals would have lost 30,000 of their 260,000 combatants, with 14,000 dead and 16,000 wounded, forcing Kyiv to mobilize more troops. Russia, despite claiming very few casualties, however has announced that it will also mobilize 16,000 mercenaries brought in from the Middle East. These include other units from regions as varied as the Russian Far East, Chechnya and Abkhazia, according to British intelligence.
The deputy chief of the Russian General Staff assured that Ukraine’s “demilitarization” was being achieved with “high-precision strikes against military installations and unit deployments, as well as airfields, command posts, arsenals and weapons depots”. “
United Nations figures refute that it is a surgical operation. As of the early hours of March 24, 977 civilians have been killed and 1,594 injured, according to calculations by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, although the figure could be higher.
Likewise, his data does not confirm the alleged “genocide” with which Putin justified himself. beautiful case Against the government of Volodymyr Zelensky. The United Nations states that in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the conflict has so far killed 279 civilians: 224 in government-controlled areas and 55 in separatist zones.
In his assessment of the Russian military’s progress, Rudskoy also emphasized that his troops could have suffered a setback from Ukrainian sabotage. “127 bridges were blown up by Ukrainian nationalists to stop our offensive,” said the colonel, who also assured that he had total superiority in the skies as “the Ukrainian aviation and air defense system is almost completely destroyed.” Went.”