Moscow, Russia: President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday Moscow will proceed according to plan with military operations in Ukraine as the pro-Western country braces for a major Russian offensive in the east.
“Our task is to fulfil and achieve all the goals set, minimising losses. And we will act rhythmically, calmly, according to the plan originally proposed by the General Staff,” Putin said during a televised press conference.
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at a cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, Putin dismissed claims Moscow’s army was struggling against the Ukrainian resistance and was forced to withdraw from around major cities, including the capital Kyiv.
“Our actions in certain regions of Ukraine were just related to containing (enemy) forces, destroying military infrastructure, creating conditions for a more active operation in Donbas,” Putin said referring to a region in eastern Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by pro-Russia separatists.
Putin also said the operation was not going to speed up, in order to minimise casualties.
“I often hear the question: is it possible to do it a bit faster? It is. This depends on the intensity of hostilities, but the intensity of hostilities is, unfortunately related to losses,” he said.
Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, accusing Ukraine of using its population as a “human shield”.
Asked about reports of the discovery of hundreds of dead bodies of civilians in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv after the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops, Putin dismissed them as “fake”.
He compared the accusations to those concerning the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “It’s the same kind of fake in Bucha,” Putin said.
He also said Ukraine’s “inconsistency” during peace talks with Russia was slowing down the process.
“Yesterday evening, the Ukrainian side changed something again. Such inconsistency on fundamental points does create certain difficulties in reaching final agreements,” Putin said.
He added that until an agreement is reached, “the military operation will continue until the full completion of (its) tasks”.
Putin said on Tuesday that Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine would undoubtedly achieve what he said were its “noble” objectives.
Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that said Moscow had no other choice but to launch a military operation to protect Russia and that a clash with Ukraine’s anti-Russian forces had been inevitable.
“Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin said of Russia’s military campaign.
Putin said the main objective of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine was to save people in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.
“On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself,” Putin said. “It’s clear that we didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision.”