Russia Ukraine conflict

Russia seeks to ‘liberate’ east Ukraine: Defense minister

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Russia’s defense minister on Tuesday said Moscow was seeking to “liberate” east Ukraine, but accused the West of dragging out the military operation by supplying Kyiv with arms.

“We are gradually implementing our plan to liberate the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics,” Sergey Shoigu said in reference to eastern Ukraine’s two rebel regions, which Moscow has recognized as independent states.

“We are taking measures to restore peaceful life,” he said in a televised meeting with Russian military commanders.

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Shoigu’s comments came after Kyiv accused Russia of unleashing a major new offensive in eastern Ukraine, marking the second stage of Moscow’s nearly two-month military operation in the former Soviet state.

But Shoigu laid the blame for the bloodshed on Washington and its Western allies.

“The United States and Western states under its control are doing everything to drag out the military operation for as long as possible,” he said.

“The growing volume of foreign weapons supplies graphically demonstrate their intention to provoke the Kyiv regime to fight to the last Ukrainian.”

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