Moscow signaled on Friday it was scaling back its ambitions in Ukraine to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the East as Ukrainian forces went on the offensive to recapture towns outside the capital Kyiv, Aznews tv informs, citing Reuters .
In an announcement that appeared to indicate more limited goals, the Russian Defence Ministry said the first phase of its operation was mostly complete and it would now focus on the eastern Donbas region, which has pro-Russia separatist enclaves.
“The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which … makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbas,” said Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate.
Reframing Russia’s goals may make it easier for President Vladimir Putin to claim a face-saving victory, military analysts said. Moscow had said its goals included demilitarising Ukraine. Western officials dismiss this as a baseless pretext for a war they say is aimed at toppling Ukraine’s government.
Facing stiff resistance, Russian troops have failed to capture any major city in the month since invading Ukraine. Instead, they have bombarded cities, laid waste to urban areas and driven a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes.
More than 3.7 million of them have fled abroad, half to neighboring Poland.