Russia Aiming To Take Full Control Of South Ukraine: Commander

A top Russian commander said that his country was aiming to take full control of southern Ukraine and the separatist Donbas region, according to media reports.

The statement was made by Maj Gen Rustam Minnekayev, the deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, while addressing a military event in the country’s Sverdlovsk region on Friday, a BBC report said.

Quoted by Russia’s TASS News Agency, the commander said that Russian forces’ control over Donbas will “enable to establish a ground corridor to Crimea and to gain influence over vitally-important Ukrainian military facilities, the Black Sea ports”.

He also said that by doing this, it would give Moscow access to the Russian-speaking breakaway region of Transnistria in Moldova.

“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population,” Gen Minnekayev was quoted as saying.

Transnistria, which borders Ukraine from the west, claimed independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, but it is yet to be recognised internationally and officially remains part of Moldova.

A small detachment of around 1,500 Russian troops has been stationed in the region since 1995 as part of a truce agreement.

Meanwhile, Moldova’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Russia’s Ambassador over Minnekayev’s comments, saying that they were “deeply concerning”