Russia said on Wednesday that its “special military operation” in Ukraine will continue at least until it captures all of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Donetsk is home to the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), which was first established in 2014, following the US-backed coup in Kyiv. The DPR and other Russian-controlled areas in Ukraine are expected to be absorbed by Moscow after referendums that concluded on Tuesday.
“The least I can say with an absolute clarity is that you all know well that not the whole territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic has been liberated. We are speaking here about the territory within its 2014 borders,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
Russian and the DPR currently control a little more than half of Donetsk. When ordering a partial mobilization last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear that his military campaign will still be focused on this area.
Referendums were also held in Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, and authorities reported results that showed a huge majority of voters want to join Russia. Russian officials have said they will move quickly to absorb the territories, and Putin is expected to address Russia’s parliament on the issue this Friday.
The US and NATO have denounced the referendum as “shams” and said they won’t recognize the territories as Russian.