Russia said Friday it would fight to take control over all east and south of Ukraine but Kyiv pledged to save the country, as the UN documented dozens of civilians killed in one town.
Ukraine s government, emboldened by an influx of Western weaponry, said its beleaguered forces were still holding out inside a sprawling steelworks in the razed port city of Mariupol.
The Kremlin has claimed the “liberation” of Mariupol, which is pivotal to its war plans nearly two months after President Vladimir Putin ordered the shock invasion of Russia s Western-leaning neighbour.
“Since the start of the second phase of the special operation… one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine,” Major General Rustam Minnekaev said.
“This will provide a land corridor to Crimea,” he added, referring to the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Minnekaev s comments were the clearest articulation yet of Russia s goals in the invasion s “second phase”, which was forced on the Kremlin after Ukraine s Western-backed resistance around the capital Kyiv.
“This only confirms what I have already said multiple times: Russia s invasion of Ukraine was intended only as a beginning,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his regular evening address.
“We will defend ourselves as long as possible… but all the nations who, like us, believe in the victory of life over death must fight with us.”