Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday claimed Moscow’s war goals in Ukraine will be “unconditionally fulfilled” despite discussions this week amongst Ukraine’s allies to further support Kyiv’s government with weapons in the fight.
Speaking to Russia’s, Putin said “I want to emphasize again that all the tasks of the special military operation we are in the Donbas and Ukraine, launched on Feb. 24, will be unconditionally fulfilled.”
That, he said, will “guarantee the security of the residents” of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that Russia recognized as independent shortly before launching its military action in Ukraine, as well as Crimea — which Russia annexed in 2014 — “and our entire country in the historical perspective.”
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The remarks come a day after dozens of defense ministers huddled at the US Air Force’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany for a meeting that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin later told Fox News was “all about making sure that we can continue to provide Ukraine what it needs to be successful in the fight today.”
“They’ll need different kinds of things to be able to shape that fight a bit better,” Austin told Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin, noting the terrain in Ukraine’s south and east. “So, we’re looking at long range artillery and tanks and armored vehicles and those types of things.”
On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and also Putin met one-on-one for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the United Nations said they agreed on arranging evacuations from a besieged steel plant in the battered city of Mariupol.
UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Russian leader and UN chief discussed “proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones, namely in relation to the situation in Mariupol.”
They also agreed in principle, he said, that the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross should be involved in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel complex where Ukrainian defenders in the southeastern city are making a stand.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.