Russian President Vladimir Putin has sat down with the country’s top military commanders to discuss the Ukraine conflict, the Kremlin revealed on Saturday. The agenda revolved around Moscow’s actions in the short and medium term.
According to the Kremlin’s readout of the meeting, “throughout Friday, the president worked at the joint headquarters of the military branches involved in the special military operation.” It did not provide details on where the meeting took place.
Putin heard reports on the work of the military HQ and the campaign’s progress in Ukraine. The Russian leader also held a joint conference and separate meetings with the commanders.
Photos released by the Kremlin show the meeting was attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, General Valery Gerasimov, who serves as chief of the General Staff, and General Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine.
A video clip posted by the Kremlin on Telegram features Putin’s opening remarks at the conference. “We will listen to the commanders in each operational area, and I would like to hear your proposals regarding our immediate and medium-term actions”, the president said.
The meeting comes after Putin’s warning last week that the military operation in Ukraine “might be a lengthy process.” He noted, however, that Russia had secured several major gains, referring to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which, along with Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, voted to join Russia in referendums this autumn. Ukraine and the West have condemned the referendums as illegitimate.
The Russian leader went on to explain that the Ukraine conflict really began in 2014, when the US backed a nationalist coup in Kiev, ousting Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s democratically elected president. Later, France and Germany helped to negotiate a ceasefire between Kiev and the Donbass republics in Minsk, but failed to ensure it was upheld.
Against that backdrop, Putin claimed that Moscow had little choice but to intervene in late February to defend the Donbass republics from Ukraine.
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