Main objectives of first stage of special operation in Ukraine generally accomplished - Russian General Staff
MOSCOW. March 25 (Interfax) - The main objectives of the first stage of the operation in Ukraine have been accomplished, Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate head Sergei Rudskoi said.
"The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been accomplished. The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which, I emphasize once again, makes it possible to focus on the main efforts to achieve the main goal, liberation of Donbas," Rudskoi told a briefing on Friday.
"Units of the LPR People's Militia have liberated 93% of the republic's territory. Fighting is now taking place on the approaches to Severodonetsk and Lysychansk," he said.
"The DPR People's Militia has taken control of 54% of the territory. The liberation of the city of Mariupol continues," he said.
"Units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, jointly with the DPR People's Militia, are conducting an offensive to liberate populated areas west of Donetsk," Rudskoi said.
The storming of the Ukrainian cities blocked by Russian troops is possible, but the main objective is the complete the liberation of Donbas, he said.
"We did not plan to storm them initially in order to avoid destruction and minimize losses among personnel and civilians," Rudskoi said at the briefing.
"Although we're not ruling out such a possibility, our forces and equipment will focus on the most important thing, the complete liberation of Donbas, in due course following the implementation of the set objectives by specific [combat] groups, and they're being implemented successfully," he said.
Russia did not relegate military support to the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics only within their borders due to the threat of constant replenishment of Ukrainian military groups, Rudskoi said.
"There were two options. The first one was to limit the actions only to the territory of the DPR and the LPR within the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which is stated in the republics' constitutions. But then we would have been faced with constant replenishment by the Ukrainian authorities of the group involved in the so-called Joint Forces Operation," Rudskoi told the briefing on Friday.
"Therefore, the second option was chosen, which envisages actions on the entire territory of Ukraine, with events for its demilitarization and denazification," he said.
"The progression of the operation confirmed that this decision was the right one. It is being conducted by the General Staff in strict accordance with the approved plan," Rudskoi said.
Ukraine's Air Force and air defense systems are almost fully destroyed and its navy also is no more, he said.
"Ukraine's air forces and air defense system are now destroyed almost entirely. The country's navy has ceased to exist," Rudskoi told the briefing.
"The demilitarization of Ukraine is being achieved both with precision strikes on military infrastructure, military bases, aerodromes, command posts, arsenals and military depots, and with troops crushing the opposing enemy groups," he said.
Russia will immediately react to any attempts to close the airspace over Ukraine, the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate head said.
"Some NATO states suggest closing the airspace over Ukraine. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will immediately react to any such attempts appropriately," Rudskoi told the briefing.
The Russian Defense Ministry has revealed its losses in the special military operation in Ukraine: 1,351 dead and 3,825 injured.
"Unfortunately, during the special military operation there have been losses among our combat comrades: 1,351 servicemen are dead and 3,825 injured," Sergei Rudskoi said on Friday.
"The state will take upon itself all decisions to support their families, to bring up their children right up to receiving higher education, repaying all loans and resolving their housing issues," he said.