Russia has achieved main initial goals in Ukraine: Defense chief

Combat potential of Ukrainian Armed Forces have been 'significantly reduced,' says Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

Russia has achieved main initial goals in Ukraine: Defense chief

Russia said on Tuesday that it had achieved its main goals for the first stage of its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"The combat potential of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been significantly reduced, which allows us to focus our main attention and efforts on achieving the main goal -- the liberation of Donbas," Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said at a meeting with senior commanders in Moscow.

Shoygu said Ukraine's military had suffered significant losses, while Russia gained air supremacy, almost entirely destroying Ukraine's air defense system.

He added that 123 of Ukraine's 152 fighter jets had been destroyed, as well as 77 of its 149 helicopters and 152 of its 180 long- and medium-range air defense systems, while its navy forces have been totally eliminated.

Criticizing the West for its arms deliveries to Ukraine, Shoygu said the "uncontrolled distribution of those arms to the population and mercenaries only aggravates the situation and in the future may pose a threat to the Europeans themselves."

On statements from the West on possible deliveries of military aircraft to Ukraine, Shoygu warned that Moscow was watching the situation closely and will respond commensurately if such plans are implemented.

He then accused Ukraine of posing a threat in the Black Sea for all countries, including civilian vessels.

"The Turkish military neutralized two sea mines off the coast of Romania and the Bosphorus Strait," he noted.

Shoygu said that about 600 "foreign mercenaries" had been killed in strikes on training grounds in Ukraine over the past two weeks, with more than 500 fleeing.

"The Russian Armed Forces will continue the special military operation until the set goals are achieved," he said.

Russia's war against Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, has met international outrage with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,151 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,842 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.

More than 3.87 million Ukrainians have also fled to neighboring countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency.