The Kremlin said Monday it may still opt to take control of large cities in Ukraine, as Moscow’s military advances steadily towards several major urban hubs in its pro-Western neighbour. Kremlin Says May Take ‘Full Control’ of Big Ukraine Cities
“Putin gave orders to hold back on any immediate assault on large cities because the civilian losses would be large,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
He added however that the Defense Ministry “does not rule out the possibility of putting large cities, which are already almost fully encircled, under its full control.”
Exceptions would be made for areas “used for humanitarian evacuations,” Peskov said.
“U.S. and EU leaders it seems are forcing Russia towards an assault of large Ukrainian cities to hold our country responsible for civilian deaths,” he added.
Peskov also denied reports Russia has asked China for military aid.
“Russia has its potential to continue the operation,” Peskov told reporters.
The United States, Peskov said, had shown its complete disregard for human life with the bombing of Yugoslavia and its capital Belgrade in 1999, its wars in the Middle East and the invasion of Afghanistan.
“We don’t need advice from such strategists,” Peskov said. “All the plans of the Russian leadership will be achieved on time and in full.”
Peskov said Putin had at the start of the operation explicitly asked the defence ministry to avoid storming significant cities such as Kyiv because he thought Ukrainian units would use civilians as shields.
He said Russian forces had already surrounded some Ukrainian cities.
When asked about remarks by U.S. officials who had said that Russia had asked China for military equipment, Peskov said: “No.”
“Russia possesses its independent potential to continue the operation. As we said, it is going according to plan and will be completed on time and in full.”