Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the geographical targets of the “special military operation” in Ukraine have expanded and now include not only the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, but also the Kherson and Zaporizhia, and another series of territories. In the midst of this offensive, Ukraine brought down a key bridge for the supply of Russian troops in the south of the country.
Russia wants to annex more Ukrainian territory and seeks to go beyond the eastern Donbass region. The geographical objectives of the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine have changed.
“When the negotiations (between Russia and Ukraine) were held in Istanbul, we had a geography and our willingness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on that geography, the one at the end of March 2022. But now the geography is different,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, July 20.
Now, the battle is no longer just for the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, but also for the “regions of Kherson (occupied since March and the only one bordering Crimea) and Zaporizhia and a number of other territories.” “That process continues, and, moreover, consistently and persistently,” Lavrov told RT (Russia Today) state television and the Ria Novosti news agency.
Russia has openly declared since its invasion of Ukraine almost 5 months ago that it will promote integration referendums in these two regions, for now, partially occupied by its troops, insinuating that the same thing could happen as in Crimea.
The decision to expand his campaign is due, according to Lavrov, to the sending of longer-range weapons from the West to Ukraine, such as High Mobility Artillery Missiles (HIMARS) and as a consequence of “the rage caused by the impotence (of the West)”.
To make the case, he repeated earlier claims by Moscow that the United States and Britain were encouraging Ukraine to expand hostilities.
Lavrov gives the biggest official signal yet that Russia is planning to annex southern Ukraine.
“Now the geography has changed. It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhia, and several other territories. And this is an ongoing process, consistent and insistent.” pic.twitter.com/xN6IMmAr5R
— max seddon (@maxseddon) July 20, 2022
“We cannot allow that in the part of Ukraine that remains under Zelensky’s control, (…) there are weapons that represent a direct threat to our territories or to the territories of the republics that declared their independence, of those that want to define their future independent”, added the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Lavrov recalled that the objectives set by Russian President Vladimir Putin in ordering the invasion of Ukraine were “denazification and demilitarization in the sense that there are no threats to our security.”
Russia’s response to a new US threat
Immediately after Lavrov’s words, the spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, responded to the warnings of the communications coordinator of the US National Security Council, John Kirby, who threatened Russia with additional and more severe sanctions. if he insisted on illegally annexing Ukrainian territory.
“This new threat did not achieve its objectives – emphasized the representative of Russian diplomacy – on the contrary, it strengthened our decision to act in accordance with the chosen line. The White House’s mistake lies in the fact that the US has imposed and imposes new sanctions without the Ukrainian regions being integrated into Russia”.
Kirby, who announced a new aid package to Ukraine, had said the day before that US intelligence officials had amassed more evidence that Russia is formally seeking to annex additional territory from Ukraine and could hold a “fake” public vote. in September. Russia is looking at Kherson, as well as the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
??| John Kirby, coordinator of the National Security Council, says US intelligence shows that “Russia intends to try to annex additional Ukrainian territory.” pic.twitter.com/t0l6pTfQR4
– Alert News ? (@Alerta_News_) July 19, 2022
Ukrainian forces demolish a bridge to prevent Russia from advancing
Precisely in the area where Moscow says it is trying to consolidate its gains, Ukrainian forces on Wednesday demolished the Antonivskyi bridge, a strategic bridge in the Kherson region, key to the supply of Russian troops in southern Ukraine.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the pro-Russian Kherson administration, said the Ukrainian military hit the bridge using US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers.
The 1.4-kilometre bridge is the main crossing of the Dnieper River in the Kherson region, a shipbuilding industrial zone. With its demolition it is difficult for the Russian army to continue supplying its forces in the region, but Stremousov said that due to the damage from the crossing, pontoon crossings would be built over the river.
Early in the war, Russian troops quickly overran the area, just north of the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.
As Russian forces took control of more cities in the two eastern regions, which together make up Ukraine’s Donbass industrial region, Ukrainian officials have mentioned plans for a counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied areas. In the south.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and quickly seized some territory, but withdrew from the capital kyiv region and the north in late March to focus on taking Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Russian separatists have controlled much of the territory since 2014.
With AP and EFE