Ukraine war: Russia 'plans to seize southern Ukraine'

Russia have the intention to capture southern Ukraine and to make  a path to the renegade region of Transnistria in Moldova, a senior Russian general says.

Maj Gen Rustam Minnekayev stated that Moscow would cast about to take "full control" over the south  as well as the eastern Donbas region as desired  objective of the Russian authorities.

Transnistria is a small Russian-supported region that encircle  Ukraine.

It is uncertain if Gen Minnekayev's utterances were formally accredited.

Russian defence officials informed  BBC that they were "looking into" the general's comments, and if established  will offer the initial insight into Russia's prospective plans in the preceding weeks.

Moldova has called up  Moscow's  diplomat over the utterance.

Meanwhile, a senior EU official has alerted Reuters that Russia is expected  to  escalate its offensives in eastern Ukraine and along the southern coast in the coming days, asserting that the coming weeks may be resolute in the conflict.

This follows as the BBC ascertained that European Council President Charles Michel has pinpointed  Russia's "miscalculations and losses" in its incursion of Ukraine to President Vladimir Putin during a  phone conversation  on Friday.

An insignificant  Russian-speaking break up region, Transnistria encircle  Ukraine from the west. It declared autonomy after the downfall of the Soviet Union in internecine  conflict, however it does not have internationally reputation and formally part of Moldova.

A small battalion of about  1,500 Russian armed forces  has been positioned in the region since 1995 as part of the reconciliation.

Gen Minnekayev, who is deputy commander of Russia's central military district, was speaking at a military occasion in the Sverdlovsk region.

"Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population," Gen Minnekayev said.

Mr Putin professed  a look alike assertion about the alleged differentiation against Russian speakers in Ukraine before kicking of the infringement  on 24 February.

Ukraine's defence ministry condemned Gen Minnekayev's remarks as Russian "imperialism".

In a broadcast shared to Twitter, Ukrainian officials said Russia had "acknowledged that the goal of the 'second phase' of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine".

And in a swift reaction, the Moldovan foreign ministry issued a statement pointing out that it perceived the remarks "as unfounded and contradicting Russia's position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognised borders".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky allege that Russia is intending to hold a sequence  of phony autonomy polls in captured regions to  fabricate a succession of pro-Russian revolutionary  states.

"If they ask you to fill out some questionnaires, leave your passport data somewhere, you should know this is not to help you," he warned.

"This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show. This is the reality. Be careful."

A mouthpiece for the Ukrainian defence ministry said that polls were  organised in Kherson and captured areas around Zaporizhzhia in the preceding weeks.

Oleksandr Motuzianik professed the polls will correspond  with the coerced militarisation of some men into the Russian armed forces. 

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