KYIV/MARIUPOL, Ukraine, April 23 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that Russia’s invasion of his country was just the beginning and that Moscow has designs on capturing other countries, after a Russian general said it wants full control over southern Ukraine.
“All the nations that, like us, believe in the victory of life over death must fight with us. They must help us, because we are the first in line. And who will come next?” Zelenskiy said in a video address late on Friday.
Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying full control over southern Ukraine would give it access to Transnistria, a breakaway Russian-occupied part of Moldova in the west. read more
That would cut off Ukraine’s entire coastline and mean Russian forces pushing hundreds of miles further west, past the major Ukrainian coastal cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa.
The statement was one of the most detailed about Moscow’s ambitions in Ukraine and suggests Russia does not plan to wind down its offensive there anytime soon.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said Minnekayev’s comments showed Russia was no longer hiding its intentions.
Moscow, it said on Twitter, had now “acknowledged that the goal of the ‘second phase’ of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine. Imperialism as it is.“
Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” to demilitarise Ukraine and liberate its population from dangerous nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies call Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion an unjustified war of aggression.
Moldova’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Moscow’s ambassador on Friday to express “deep concern” about the general’s comments. Moldova was neutral, it said. Moldova last month applied to join the European Union, charting a pro-Western course hastened by Russia’s invasion.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said Washington firmly supported Moldova’s sovereignty.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment when asked if Russia had expanded the goals of its operation and how Moscow saw the political future of southern Ukraine.
President Joe Biden said on Thursday he had authorized a further $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery, ammunition and drones. Canada said on Friday it had provided more heavy artillery to Ukraine. read more
A senior EU official said the next couple of weeks would likely be decisive.
Twenty-six women and girls have disappeared in Nuevo Leon this year, and five more have been found dead after being reported missing.
“The body found is Debanhi’s, and the cause of death is a profound contusion to the skull,” state attorney general Gustavo Guerrero said in a Facebook live video. All lines of investigation are open, he said.
Guerrero’s comments came as hundreds of women blocked a highway in downtown Monterrey, paralyzing traffic, demanding an end to gender violence.
The protesters demanded the resignation of the state secretary of security, Aldo Fasci, and carried signs with the names and faces of Debanhi and other local women who have gone missing or been found dead recently.
Her father, Mario Escobar, on Friday accused the driver of trying to grope his daughter’s breasts, citing video camera footage, suggesting this is what led her to get out of the car. What happened after she exited the vehicle is unclear.
In an interview with local media, Escobar accused authorities of mishandling the investigation.