Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia’s military objectives now extend beyond the eastern Ukrainian Donbas.

As the war in Ukraine approaches its fifth month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state media that “the geography is different.”

“This is far from being only the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic), it is also the Kherson region, Zaporozhye region and a number of other territories, and this process continues, it is going steadily and persistently,” Lavrov said. during an interview with RIA Novosti published on Wednesday.

Lavrov’s remarks signal a reorientation of the Kremlin’s approach to the war in Ukraine.

Just three months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin displaced war effort to the east of the country, failing to capture Kyiv.
Ukraine's new American missiles create new problems for Russia
When Russian troops carried out Putin’s order and captured the last city in the Lugansk region still in Ukrainian hands – Lisichansk – earlier this month, it was assumed that their next move would be to the neighboring Donetsk region.
If Donetsk falls, Moscow will take the whole Donbass in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatist groups have been hiding since 2014.
However, the recently delivered US multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) HIMARS worth $400 million strengthened the ability of the Ukrainian armed forces to hit Russian targets – an important factor that created new problems for Moscow.

Earlier this month, powerful explosions rocked several occupied districts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions. The available satellite imagery and data from Western analysts suggest that the targeting was very effective.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, echoed calls for more HIMARS weapons on Ukrainian TV on Wednesday.

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Lavrov said that as the West continues to supply Ukraine with more long-range weapons, including the Highly Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Russia’s geographic targets in Ukraine will move further away from the current line.

“We cannot allow any weapon that poses a direct threat to our territory or the territory of republics that have declared independence or want to independently determine their future on the part of Ukraine controlled by Zelensky or whoever replaces him,” Lavrov said.

“The president said very clearly, as you quoted: denazization and demilitarization in the sense that there should be no threat to our security, no military threat from the territory of Ukraine, and this goal remains,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said it was “meaningless” to negotiate with Ukraine at this time, in an interview with the Russian state-run publication Russia Today on Wednesday.

He accused the West of pushing Ukraine to refrain from negotiations until it “begins to speak from a position of strength.”

Lavrov said that Russia was ready to make a deal with Ukraine, but nothing came of it.

“We handed them a document that, I emphasize once again, was based on their logic,” Lavrov said in an interview published on the Russian Foreign Ministry website. “They received this document on April 15 and we haven’t heard from them since.”

“But we heard something else, from Scholz, from Boris Johnson, who obviously doesn’t say this now, from Ursula von der Leyen and many others, including the chief diplomat Borrell, that Ukraine should win on the battlefield, that Ukraine should not lead negotiations now because it is in a weak position on the front line, and that Ukraine must first improve this position and begin to dominate the Russian armed forces, Donetsk and Luhansk militias, and only then start speaking from a position of strength,” Lavrov said. .

“I think that such talk, as they say, is for birds,” he added.

CNN’s Rob Picheta, Tim Lister, Kostan Nechiporenko, and Oren Lieberman contributed to this report.