Moscow, Apr 22 (EFE).- Russia aims to seize control of eastern and southern Ukraine to form a land corridor that stretches from the Donbas region to Moscow-annexed Crimea and as far as the separatist enclave of Transnistria in Moldova, the head of Russia’s central military district said Friday.
General major Rustam Minnekayev was quoted as saying the objectives were part of the second phase of what Russia terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“Control over the southern Ukraine is another way to Transnistria,” he said according to Russian news agencies, claiming that the Russian-speaking population in the breakaway Moldovan region, which is home to Russian military presence, was being “oppressed.”
Until now, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and his defense chief Sergei Shoigu have only publicly confirmed plans to capture the entire Donbas region, a cultural term for the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Moscow forces have been operating since 2014.
Russia has heavily bombarded the cities of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine and controls the city of Kherson.
The cities would in theory be a gateway from the Donbas toward Odesa on the Black Sea coast.
Responding to the remarks from Minnekayev, Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a Twitter statement: “They are not going to stop. The command of the Russian central military district announced the next victim of the Russian aggression. After gaining control over the southern Ukraine, Russia plans to invade Moldova, where they say Russian speakers are being “oppressed.”EFE