During the second phase of the special operation, the Russian Army intends to establish full control over the Donbass and Southern Ukraine. Another goal is to provide a corridor to Crimea, Rustam Minnekaev, Acting Commander of the Central Military District of the Russian Armed Forces said, Interfax reports.
According to Minnekaev, the second phase of the special operation began two days ago.
On April 19, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia proceeded to the next phase of the special operation in Ukraine. The goal of the operation is to completely liberate the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR), the minister said.
More than 144,000 residents and 341 foreign citizens, as well as 1,844 captured soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), were evacuated from Mariupol after the city was liberated from nationalist groups, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the National Center for Defense Control of Russia said, RIA Novosti reports.
The representative of the Ministry of Defense noted that the above-mentioned numbers could only confirm that all accusations from Western countries and Ukraine against the Russian military were groundless.
"Owing to the measures taken, 143,631 civilians and 341 foreign citizens were evacuated from Mariupol. As many as 1,844 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who surrendered to the Russian troops, could safely leave the area. All their lives have been saved, their safety has been ensured. They receive qualified medical assistance. All this has been done without any participation of the Kiev authorities, but in relation to the citizens of their own country,” Mizintsev stressed.
Russia is ready to declare a ceasefire at any moment for the evacuation of civilians from the territory of Azovstal steel plant. Similar conditions can be offered to the fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who decide to surrender, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev said.
"In accordance with this principled position, being guided by humane principles, in response to ongoing allegations from the Ukrainian side about the alleged presence of civilians at Azovstal, we once again declare that Russia is ready at any moment to announce a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause for the evacuation of civilians (if such are present in the underground facilities of the steel plant), military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who expressed their willingness to lay down their arms, militants of nationalist battalions, including wounded Ukrainian military personnel," said Mizintsev.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine may face new problems over the upgraded Russian unmanned aerial vehicle Lancet. Kyiv will now need to use airfields far from the line of combat contact and look for new ways to protect its aircraft