Is Russia scaling back Ukraine ambitions?

Is Russia scaling back Ukraine ambitions? Source: UN

An announcement by Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate on Friday March 25th, suggests that Russia is scaling back its Ukraine ambitions. Rudskoi claimed that: “The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished.”

The claim follows reports that Russian forces appeared to be moving away from Kyiv, a city that it was unable to take, and that it was consolidating its forces in the Donbas region. Russia lays claim to the Donbas, one of its demands for a return to peace is the recognition of the region as their territory.

Moscow had claimed that Russian backed separatists already controlled the region.

Rudskoi in making the announcement said: “The combat potential of the armed forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbas.”

According to US reports, Russian forces were no longer in full control of Kherson, supposedly the first Ukrainian city to fall after the invasion began, with suspicions that the Kremlin may be switching to more limited goals after suffering significant losses.

An unnamed senior US defence official said “They are prioritising it (Donbas) and we concur, our information would concur, with that,” an unnamed.” However he also cautioned against taking the Russian announcement too literally as it could once again be a smokescreen for another full blown attempt to defeat Ukrainian forces.

Military analysts have also expressed caution saying that if bolstering the breakaway Donbas region really was the ultimate goal Moscow, why the need to deploy forces all across the country.

Russia’s defence ministry had said the invasion would continue until it “reaches the targets set by Vladimir Putin.” But with Rudskoi admitting that 1,351 Russian soldiers had died in the conflict and 3,825 had been injured, his announcement would suggest otherwise.

Russia Ukraine negotiations

According to the Interfax News Agency, no real progress is being made on peace talks with Russian negotiators appearing to be dragging their heels. Although they report the two sides are close on some secondary issues there has been no progress on the main points.

Russia have accused Ukraine of trying to stretch the talks out, however Ukraine have said these are difficult talks that are not easy to resolve given Putin’s demands.

What isn’t clear is if  Russia is scaling back its Ukraine ambitions, how will this impact negotiations and what if any of Putin’s demands will change.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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