Topline

In a sign that Russia may be dialing back its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin said Friday it was shifting its focus to the “liberation” of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, which has been partially controlled since 2014 by two Russian-backed separatist states.

Key Facts

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Sergei Rudskoi, Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate, said During a briefing the main objectives of the first phase of Russia’s invasion have been accomplished and the combat power of the Ukrainian military has been reduced, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

This “makes it possible to focus on the main efforts to achieve the main goal, liberation of Donbas,” he said.

He said 93% of the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic’s claimed territory of the entirety of Luhansk Oblast had been seized, while 54% of Donetsk Oblast, which is claimed by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has been taken.

Rudskoi said more 1,351 Russian troops have been killed thus far in Ukraine, in the Kremlin’s first update to its official death toll since March 2, when it said 498 soldiers had died.

A senior NATO defense official said Thursday the alliance believes 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.