- This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.
MOSCOW, Dec 8 (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Thursday that its forces are still set on seizing parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that Moscow has claimed as its own.
However, the Kremlin has not fully defined the goals of its military campaign, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to set a limit on the Ukrainian territory that Russia now sought to incorporate as its own.
Moscow proclaimed that it had annexed four provinces of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – after holding so-called referendums in September that were rejected as bogus and illegal by Kyiv, the West and a majority of countries at the United Nations.
None of the provinces were fully under Russian control, and Moscow left unclear was how much of them it was annexing.
Asked on Thursday whether Russia planned to incorporate any more territories beyond the four regions, Peskov said:
“There is no question of that. At least, there have been no statements in this regard. But there is nevertheless a lot of work ahead to liberate the territories; in a number of new regions of the Russian Federation there are occupied territories that have to be liberated.
“I mean part of the Donetsk Republic, as well as what became part of the Russian Federation, and then was re-occupied by Ukrainian troops.”
Ukraine has pushed Russian forces out of a small area of Luhansk province, and last month Russia’s army quit all the parts of Kherson province that it had controlled on the west bank of the Dnipro River, including the provincial capital, the city of Kherson.
In Other Development
* The risk of Putin using nuclear weapons as part of his war in Ukraine has decreased in response to international pressure, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview.* Russian shelling killed 10 people and wounded many in the town of Kurakhove in eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.
* Twin strikes on air bases deep inside Russian territory have dealt Moscow a major reputational blow and raised questions about why its defences failed, analysts said.
* The United States has made clear to Ukraine its concerns about any escalation of the war with Russia, but it respects Ukrainian sovereignty, including decisions about how Kiev uses weapons supplied by Washington, White House security spokesman John Kirby said.
* Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko warned of an “apocalypse” scenario for the city this winter if Russian air strikes on infrastructure continue. Russia has fired more than 1,000 rockets and missiles at Ukraine’s power grid, Interfax Ukraine news agency said.
* Russia is still working on how to respond to a price cap imposed by Western powers on sales of Russian oil, the Kremlin said. Options include banning oil sales to some countries and setting maximum discounts at which it would sell its crude, the Vedomosti daily reported.
DIPLOMACY AND POLITICS
* The United Nations is examining “available information” about accusations that Iran supplied Russia with drones, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, as he faces Western pressure to inspect downed drones in Ukraine.
* The European Commission proposed a ninth package of sanctions on Russia including almost 200 more individuals and entities.
* Time magazine named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy 2022’s “Person of the Year”.