'Russians, Ukrainians One People', Moscow Wants Kiev to Break Free of NATO, West: Top Russian Gen.
17:33 GMT 18.10.2022 (Updated: 20:57 GMT 19.10.2022)
The general's remarks come amid Russia's ongoing military operation in Ukraine, which began eight years after a US-backed coup in Kiev overthrew the country's democratically elected government and sparked a civil conflict in the Donbass.
Russians and Ukrainians are one people, and Moscow seeks only one thing in Ukraine - that the nation break free from the grip of the West and NATO and become a friendly government, Sergei Surovikin, the Russian Army General appointed commander of all Russian forces in Ukraine earlier this month, has said.
"The enemy is the criminal regime pushing the citizens of Ukraine to their death. We and Ukrainians are one people and want the same thing - that Ukraine be independent from the West and NATO and a friendly state for Russia," Surovikin said, speaking with reporters in the conflict zone on Tuesday.
Commenting on Kiev's recent offensive operations in the direction of the city of Kherson, the commander accused Kiev's NATO puppetmasters of ignoring the heavy losses both in manpower among the Ukrainian military, and among civilians, and characterized the situation in this area of the front as "very difficult."
"The NATO leadership in charge of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has long been demanding offensive operations in the Kherson direction from the Kiev regime, without any regard for casualties, both among the Armed Forces of Ukraine and among the civilian population," Surovikin said.
18 October 2022, 04:31 GMT
HIMARS rockets have damaged Antonovsky Bridge and the Khakovskaya hydroelectric power station, complicating the delivery of food to the city, and causing problems with water and electricity supplies. "All of this not only significantly complicates the lives of residents, but creates a direct threat to their lives," the commander said.
Russia also has information that Kiev may be preparing to use prohibited methods of warfare in Kherson, including plans "for a massive missile attack on Kakhovskaya Dam, and a massive, indiscriminate missile and artillery strike on the city. These actions could lead to the destruction of the infrastructure of a large industrial center, and cause major casualties among the civilian population," Surovikin said.
"Our further plans and actions regarding the city of Kherson will depend on the emerging military-tactical situation" and will proceed from the need to preserve as much as possible the lives of local civilians and Russian military personnel," the commander said.
Russia will not exclude making "difficult decisions" should the situation call for it, Surovikin said. These include ensuring a safe exit for any civilians from Kherson region who wish to leave the conflict zone.
18 October 2022, 17:34 GMT
Characterizing the overall situation on the front as "tense," the commander told reporters that the enemy continues to attack Russian positions across the front, including the Kharkov, Donetsk and the Nikolayev-Krivy Rog directions.
Kiev is pulling up reserves to attempt to break through Russian lines, including poorly prepared territorial defense forces being used as cannon fodder, and blocking detachments consisting of neo-Nazi battalions to prevent them from leaving the battlefield, Surovikin said.
Surovikin estimates that Ukraine is losing between 600 and 1,000 soldiers killed and injured per day. "We have a different strategy. The commander in chief has spoken about this. We are not striving for a high rate of advance, are taking care of each soldier and methodically 'grinding' the advancing enemy down," he said.
The Russian group of forces in Ukraine is currently building up its strength, creating reserves and building defensive positions along the entire front, Surovikin said.
"Strikes using high-precision weapons are continuing against military facilities and infrastructure that affects the combat capabilities of Ukrainian troops," he said.
Offering new statistics on the state of the air war, Surovikin said that over 600 Ukrainian military targets have been destroyed in attack drone strikes, and that over 8,000 sorties have been flown. Russian warplanes have made over 34,000 sorties during the course of the special operation since February, and more than 7,000 guided weapons have been used, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, the general indicated.
13 October 2022, 14:09 GMT
General Surovikin was appointed commander of all Russian forces involved in the operation in Ukraine on October 8. The 56-year-old has nearly 40-years of service with the Soviet and Russian militaries under his belt. He concurrently serves as commander in chief of Russia's Aerospace Forces, and was the commander of the Eastern Military District between 2013 and 2017. A veteran of the Soviet War in Afghanistan, Surovikin commanded a motorized rifle battalion detachment from the Tamanskaya Tank Division when it was deployed in Moscow to try to oust Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991
. He served as a commander during the Second Chechen War, and has been credited with helping to achieve the turning point in the Syrian conflict. He was awarded the title 'Hero of the Russian Federation' in December 2017.
Upon learning of his appointment as commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Western media have dubbed him "General Armageddon."