By Bernardo Suarez Indart
Moscow, Mar 4 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin told Belarusian counterpart and close ally Alexander Lukashenko in a phone conversation on Friday that Moscow will fully carry out its military objectives in Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Russia’s armed forces, for their part, said their offensive was going according to plan, with attacks on different fronts.
Putin has indicated that the objectives of the invasion that began on Feb. 28 include the recognition of the Crimean Peninsula (which Moscow seized in 2014) as Russian territory and the neutrality, demilitarization and “denazification” of Ukraine.
But he has not unveiled his plans for the aftermath of an eventual military victory and said only that Russian troops will not occupy the neighboring country.
Russia has “no bad intentions” toward its neighbors and advises them not to “aggravate the situation,” Putin was quoted as saying in the statement. “Do not impose restrictions.”
“No matter how difficult and complex it may be, we’ll continue our development (and) strengthen transportation and logistics infrastructure throughout the country,” he added.
Russia’s Central Bank kept the Moscow stock market closed for a fifth straight day to prevent a selloff, while the ruble on Friday hit all-time lows against the dollar (111.75 per greenback).
Although companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Ikea have suspended their activities in the Russian market, the government sent a message of calm to the population.
“The situation with medicines is stable. The country has important medicine reserves,” Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said.
But many older Russians who remember times of scarcity lined up to purchase medicines at pharmacies in expectation of supply problems or high prices of imported drugs.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Friday that Russian troops were continuing their offensive and had seized control of six towns in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
That ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, added that in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, Ukrainian nationalists are setting up missile launchers in residential neighborhoods and preventing the population from leaving their homes.
The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s legislature, on Friday unanimously approved amendments to the criminal code that make the spread of “fake news” about the actions of the country’s armed forces and calls for other nations to impose sanctions on Moscow punishable by heavy fines and prison terms of up to 15 years.
That legislation was approved by the 401 lawmakers present in the chamber and now will be sent to the Senate for a final vote. EFE