Moscow said it does not intend to capture Ukraine, but would seek its “de-Nazification” and “demilitarization”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russia had “no plans to occupy the Ukrainian territories” after announcing that a special operation had been launched to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics from “Ukrainian aggression.”
The operation’s ultimate goal is “to protect the people who have been subjected for eight years to genocide by the Kiev regime,” Putin said in an address on Thursday morning, adding that Moscow would “embark on a demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and handing over to justice those who committed numerous atrocities against civilians.”
The area held by the Donetsk People’s Republic (in black, striped area being the rest of the Donetsk Oblast) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (in blue, striped area being the rest of the Luhansk Oblast) within Ukraine. Russian-annexed Crimea is also shown as striped
The Russian president noted, however, that Moscow harbors no far-reaching plans to take over the whole territory of Ukraine.
“We do not have plans to occupy Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force,” he said.
Ukraine has been accusing Moscow of illegally occupying Crimea, which was reabsorbed by Russia following a referendum in March 2014, following a US-backed coup that overthrew the elected government in Kiev.
Kiev has also repeatedly accused Russia of having a military presence in Donbass, although Moscow has consistently denied this claim.
LIVE from Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) following Putin’s emergency address on Donbass.
On Thursday, February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated an emergency address to the people of Russia on the situation in Donbass earlier.