Russia War: Moscow Says Its Military Targets in Ukraine Go Beyond Donbass

Russia said on Wednesday its military targets in Ukraine have expanded beyond the industrial region of Donbass as its forces unleashed deadly artillery shelling across the country’s east and south.

The warning came as the European Commission urged EU countries to cut demand for natural gas to reduce dependence on Russian energy, and the bloc agreed to impose an embargo on Russian gold imports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview that Moscow’s military was no longer focused “only” on wresting control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine, which had been partly controlled by pro-Moscow rebels for years.

“The geography is different now. We are talking not only about the DPR and LPR, but also about the Kherson region, the Zaporozhye region and a number of other territories, ”he explained to the state media.

Since the February 24 invasion, Russian forces have steadily advanced into each of these regions, wreaking havoc, capturing key cities, and meeting fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to Lavrov’s remarks by calling on his country’s allies to tighten sanctions against Moscow and speed up arms deliveries to Kyiv.

“By confessing to dreams of seizing more Ukrainian lands, the Russian Foreign Minister (Sergey Lavrov) proves that Russia rejects diplomacy and emphasizes war and terror,” he said.

Western weapons pose a ‘direct threat’ to Russia

The steady eastward advance of Russian troops came after Moscow’s early invasion forces failed to capture the capital Kyiv and were pushed back from Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city.

But Russian artillery shelled the eastern hub almost continuously, and three people were killed in attacks on Kharkiv on Wednesday, local officials said.

“Among them was a 13-year-old boy,” Oleg Sinegubov, the governor of the region, said on social networks.

AFP reporters saw a man kneeling in shock over the body, which was covered by a blue hoodie and surrounded by shards of broken glass.

Authorities said two people were killed in a Russian shelling of a residential area in the southern city of Nikopol.

While the brunt of the fighting in Ukraine in recent months has been concentrated in the Donbas, the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south has gradually reclaimed some Russian-held territory.

Ukraine, Ukrainian and military analysts believe that Western long-range artillery has changed the dynamics of the battlefield, and Russian officials have taken note.

Lavrov said on Wednesday that Western arms supplies to Ukraine were a factor in Moscow’s decision to focus on more than just the east, and said its ambitions could be further expanded if supplies continue.

“We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that will be controlled by (President Volodymyr) Zelensky or whoever replaces him, to have weapons that will pose a direct threat to our territory and the territory of those republics that have declared their independence,” Lavrov said. we are talking about Donetsk and Lugansk.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said on social media on Wednesday that Kyiv expects the “soon arrival” of new Khimars, American precision-guided missile systems.

Energy plans for emergencies

Lavrov also dismissed the idea of ​​further peace talks with Ukraine, saying previous rounds had shown that Kyiv was unwilling to negotiate “in earnest”.

“It doesn’t make any sense in the current situation,” he told state media. However, Russian and Ukrainian delegations are expected in Istanbul in the coming days for further talks on unblocking Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he hopes an agreement can be formulated “this week”.

Mykolaiv, the largest city under Ukrainian control near Russian-occupied Kherson and the Southern Front, has been under constant artillery fire since the beginning of the invasion.

The regional governor on Wednesday announced that the city would be closed “for a day or two” in a few weeks to process information about people allegedly collaborating with Russian forces.

The announcement came after Zelenskiy fired several senior law enforcement officials in Kyiv, including the head of the security service, accusing their agencies of failing to crack down on Kremlin spies and supporters.

The West has responded to the Russian invasion with several packages of damaging sanctions, which in turn led Russia to cut natural gas supplies to the bloc, triggering a supply and price crisis.

In its latest round of sanctions on Wednesday, the EU targeted gold exports and froze the assets of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank.

Announcing a contingency plan on Wednesday, the European Commission asked EU countries to reduce natural gas demand by 15% to ensure sufficient supplies of gas ahead of winter.

The EU commissioners also asked member states to grant Brussels special powers to impose mandatory energy rationing if Russia blocks Europe from the gas pipeline.

Originally published as Russia says military intends to expand in Ukraine