“We are not aiming to destroy Ukraine,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that he was not planning new “massive” strikes against Ukraine “immediately” or expanding the mobilization he ordered three weeks ago to counter a setback by his military.
Speaking at a press conference after a regional summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, Putin assured that Russia “does not aim to destroy Ukraine,” where it has been on the offensive since February 24.
“In the immediate term, there is no need for massive strikes. Currently, there are other goals. For now, then we’ll see,” he said, assuring that Russia would do “everything right” in Ukraine.
“What is happening now is not good, but (if Russia had not attacked Ukraine on February 24), we would have been in the same situation a little later, the conditions would have been worse for us. So we are doing everything right,” the Russian president continued.
Russia launched heavy bombardments on Ukrainian cities on Monday, damaging electricity infrastructure and residential areas, or even a playground in Kyiv. The attacks came two days after an explosion on Russia’s Crimean bridge, a critical piece of infrastructure, which Mr Putin attributed to the Ukrainian secret service.
Mr Putin also said on Friday that he did not foresee a new wave of mobilization of Russians into the military, while acknowledging the current setbacks.
According to him, 222,000 men were recruited out of the planned 300,000, of whom 16,000 were already “in units engaged in combat”.
“Nothing else is planned. No proposal came from the Defense Ministry, and I don’t see the need for it in the future,” Putin told a press conference, adding that he expected the mobilization to end “in about two weeks.”
“The front line is 1,100 km long, so it is almost impossible to hold it exclusively by forces made up of soldiers under contract”, defended the Russian president, but the mobilization announcement caused tens of thousands of Russians to flee the country.
Mr. also said he was “open” to talks with Kyiv and mediation by countries like Turkey or the United Arab Emirates. Putin said, criticizing Kyiv for refusing to open talks with him.
The Russian president admitted for the first time that Moscow’s partners in the former USSR were “concerned” about the conflict in Ukraine.