Russia has been slowing down its offensive in Ukraine deliberately in order to give civilians an opportunity to evacuate, Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoygu said, RIA Novosti reports.
"In order for residents to leave surrounded settlements, a ceasefire was announced and humanitarian corridors were provided. Of course, this slows down the pace of the offensive, but we are doing this deliberately in order to avoid civilian casualties,” Shoygu said.
According to the minister, all sanctions against Russia and military assistance that Western countries have been providing to Kyiv will not stop Moscow from fulfilling its goals in Ukraine.
He once again stressed that Russia was forced to launch the special operation to protect the population of Donbass from "genocide" and ensure a non-nuclear and neutral status of Ukraine.
In addition, Shoygu said that Wester countries were putting pressure on Russia's allies too. Moscow is ready to provide them with all the necessary assistance, he added.
"Russia will continue to provide all necessary assistance to its allies in neutralizing emerging threats and upholding sovereignty,” he stressed.
NATO has no plans to deploy troops on the Ukrainian territory, Jens Stoltenberg said. French President Emmanuel Macron earlier did not rule out a possibility to send Western military forces there