February 8, 2023

Russia plans to "liberate" parts of Ukraine annexed by Moscow

Russia plans to “liberate” parts of Ukraine annexed by Moscow

(This story has been reworded to fix a typo in “Plans” in the headline)

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Thursday that its forces continue to control parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that Moscow has claimed as its own.

However, the Kremlin has not fully defined the goals of its military campaign, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appears to have put an end to the Ukrainian territories that Russia has now sought to incorporate as its own.

Moscow announced it had annexed Ukraine’s four provinces – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson – after holding so-called referendums in September that Kyiv, the West and a majority of countries at the United Nations rejected as fictitious and illegal.

None of the provinces were completely under Russian control, and it is not clear how much part Moscow would include.

When asked Thursday if Russia plans to incorporate any other regions outside the four regions, Peskov said:

“There is no doubt about that. At least, there was no data on this score. But still, there is a lot of work ahead to liberate the territories; in a number of new regions of the Russian Federation, there are occupied territories that have to be liberated.

“I mean a part of the Donetsk Republic, as well as what became part of the Russian Federation, and then was reoccupied by Ukrainian forces.”

Ukraine expelled Russian forces from a small area in Luhansk Province, and last month the Russian army withdrew from all parts of Kherson Province it once controlled on the west bank of the Dnipro River, including the provincial capital, the city of Kherson.

(This story has been reworded to fix a typo in “Plans” in the headline)

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Jay Faulconbridge)