The General also reported that five combat aircraft, one helicopter, five drones, 18 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, seven multiple rocket launch systems, 41 units of special military vehicles and five warships were destroyed or otherwise disabled. More than 150 servicemen from various Ukrainian units have laid down their arms and surrendered during fighting in Donbass.
According to the authorities in Moscow, the military operation of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine responded to a request for help from the Donetsk People’s Republics of (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR) in the face of aggression by Kiev, as a result of which Moscow recognized the independence and sovereignty of both territories on February 21st and signed treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with their leaders, which included the establishment of diplomatic relations and lending military aid.
The start of the operation was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised speech, in which he stated that Russia aims at protecting the population of Donbass and “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.
The president urged the Ukrainian military to lay down their arms and warned of the possibility of an immediate response in the event of attempts at external intervention in the situation.
In Putin’s words, Russia does not plan to occupy Ukrainian territories, but rather defend the right of the peoples of Ukraine to self-determination. He also reiterated that Moscow cannot allow Kiev to acquire nuclear weapons and continue to militarize, which constitutes a danger to Russia’s security. He also stressed that NATO’s continued eastward expansion is unacceptable.
The Russian Ministry of Defense assured that the armed forces of his country are not launching attacks on Ukrainian cities but against military infrastructure, air defense facilities, airfields and military aviation, using high-precision weapons. The civilian population of Ukraine, it stated, is not threatened.