Russia says it plans full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine; Moldova protests_freckle removal wellington

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Russia says it plans full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine; Moldova protests

·3 min read

(Reuters) -Russia plans to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine during the second phase of what it calls its special military operation, the deputy commander of Russia's central military district said on Friday, Russian news agencies reported.

The statement from Rustam Minnekayev, the deputy commander, is one of the most detailed about Moscow's ambitions in Ukraine and suggests Russia does not plan to wind down its offensive there anytime soon.

The Interfax and TASS news agencies cited him as saying that full control of southern Ukraine would improve Russian access to Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region of Transdniestria, which borders Ukraine and which Kyiv fears could be used as a launch pad for new attacks.

"Control over the south of Ukraine is another way to Transdniestria, where there is also evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed," TASS quoted Minnekayev as saying at a meeting in Russia's central Sverdlovsk region.

Moldova's foreign ministry said it had summoned the Russian ambassador to express "deep concern" about the remarks.

"These statements are unfounded and contradict the position of the Russian Federation supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic of Moldova," it said on its website.

"During the meeting, it was reiterated that the republic of Moldova ... is a neutral state and this principle must be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation."

Kyiv earlier this month said that an airfield in the Transdniestria region was being prepared to receive aircraft and be used by Moscow to fly in Ukraine-bound troops, allegations that Moldova's defence ministry and authorities in Transdniestria denied.

Minnekayev was not cited as providing any evidence for or details of the alleged oppression in Transdniestria.

He was quoted as saying that Russia planned to forge a land corridor between Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which it annexed in 2014, and Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

(editor:)

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