“One of the goals is to establish full control over the Donbass and southern Ukraine,” says a senior Russian officer.

Almost two months after the start of the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow announced on Friday that it aims to take full control of southern Ukraine and the Donbass region. “One of the goals of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbass and southern Ukraine”said a senior Russian military official who said it was a “second phase of special operation” which one of the purposes is“Provide a land corridor to the Crimea”.

In Donbass, “Heavy shootings and fighting continue as Russia tries to move to places such as Lyman, Bukhivivka, Barvinkov and Popasna as part of its regional plan.”the British Ministry of Defense said on Friday.

Moscow had revised its plans and withdrew its troops from the Kiev region and the north in late March. Ukraine, which has received more weapons assistance from the West in recent days, continues to show that it can expel Russian troops.

“They can only delay the inevitable – the time when the invaders will have to leave our territory, especially in Mariupol”Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Thursday evening. “Russia’s offensive in the south depends on the fate of Mariupol”Regional Governor Pavlo Kirilenko told AFP on Friday.

The strategic port of Mariupol, which Moscow claims to have “released”still opposes Russian forces, says kyiv, according to which Ukrainian militants continue to fiercely defend the huge Azovstal metallurgical complex, in which civilians are also rooted.

Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Kyiv had refused to surrender the last Ukrainian troops rooted in Azovstal’s industrial zone. His army said on Friday it was ready to watch “anytime” truce “in whole or in part” from the site. The starting point for this intrusion “will raise the white flags of Ukraine’s armed formations”.

Darell Goodwin

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