Russia-Ukraine crisis International

Russia signals less ambitious goals in Ukraine war

(L-R) Sergei Rudskoi, a senior representative of the General Staff, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov and Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, hold a briefing on Russian military action in Ukraine, in Moscow on March 25, 2022.

(L-R) Sergei Rudskoi, a senior representative of the General Staff, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov and Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defence Control Centre, hold a briefing on Russian military action in Ukraine, in Moscow on March 25, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

Russia signalled on Friday it may dial back its war aims to focus on eastern Ukraine after failing to break the nation’s resistance in a month of fighting and attacks on civilians, including up to 300 feared killed in the bombing of a theatre being used as a bunker.

The possible shift came as President Joe Biden visited elite United States troops serving with NATO just across the border in Poland and France’s Emmanuel Macron proposed an internationally backed evacuation of civilians trapped in the bombarded city of Mariupol.

Back in February, President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion to destroy Ukraine’s military and topple pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, bringing the country under Russia’s sway.

However, Sergei Rudskoi, a senior Russian general, suggested a considerably reduced “main goal” of controlling the Donbas, an eastern region already partly held by Russian proxies. His surprise statement came as a Western official reported that a seventh Russian general had died in Ukraine and claimed that a colonel had been “deliberately” killed by his own demoralised men.

Visiting Rzeszow, about 80 kilometers from Ukraine, Mr. Biden praised Ukraine’s “incredible” resistance, comparing the conflict to a bigger version of communist China’s 1989 crushing of protests in Tiananmen Square.

Mr. Biden told soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division that the struggle in eastern Europe represents a historic “inflection point.”

“Are democracies going to prevail..., or are autocracies going to prevail? And that’s really what’s at stake,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden was briefed on the humanitarian situation, with more than 3.7 million refugees fleeing Ukraine, most of them into Poland.

Earlier, he ended a trip to Brussels for meetings with Western allies by announcing new measures to help the European Union shed dependence on imported Russian energy. The plan is part of a sea change in the West, which for years has shrunk from direct confrontation with the Kremlin, but now seeks to make Mr. Putin a pariah.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 3:12:11 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-signals-less-ambitious-goals-in-ukraine-war/article65260869.ece