Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has told military commanders of the ‘East’ grouping in Donbass to make Ukraine’s long-range weapons their primary target. The order came as he inspected troops stationed around Donetsk, the main city of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Shoigu gave orders to prioritize striking Ukrainian missile and artillery capabilities, due to their use by Kiev in targeting residential areas in Donbass and setting wheat fields and grain warehouses on fire, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Ukraine’s long-range arms, which beside Soviet-designed systems include US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, French CAESAR self-propelled howitzers and other foreign hardware, should be hit with high-precision weapons, according to the minister.
On Monday, the People’s Republics of Donetsk said its territory had been shelled 53 times from the Ukrainian side over the past 24 hours, with more than 660 projectiles being fired.
During their meeting, the commander of the ‘East’ grouping, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, informed Shoigu “about the current situation and the progress achieved in fulfilling the assigned combat tasks of destroying the opposing forces,” the ministry said.
Shoigu’s unannounced tour of the Russian forces in Donbass was first revealed by the Defense Ministry on Sunday, when it said that the minister had inspected the ‘South’ and ‘Center’ groupings, meeting with their commanders, Army General Sergey Surovikin and Colonel General Alexander Lapin.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.