Russia Outlines When Ukraine War Will End

Russia's invasion of Ukraine will end "once its tasks are fulfilled," a senior Russian official has said.

Alexey Polishchuk, from the Russian Foreign Ministry's second CIS department told state news agency Tass the war would end when Moscow achieved the "protection of the peaceful population of Donbas, demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine."

Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February and millions have been driven from their homes. Russia's army has also faced major losses in the face of Ukrainian resistance while Western countries have imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia over the war.

Polishchuk said that one of Moscow's goals was also the elimination of threats to Russia coming from Ukrainian territory "due to its colonization by NATO members."

"All its goals will be reached," Polishchuk told state news agency Tass, describing the war with the Kremlin-approved description, "special military operation," which he insisted was going to plan. Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian foreign ministry for comment.

Russian troops
Two Russian soldiers patrol in the Mariupol drama theater, bombed last March 16, in Mariupol on April 12, 2022. A senior Russian official has said that the Ukraine war will end “once its tasks are fulfilled.” ALEXANDER NEMENOV/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin listed "denazification" as one of the reasons for his war, which has been widely rejected by Kyiv and the West.

Tass reported the Kremlin line that Putin had no plans "to occupy Ukrainian territories."

Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the reasons given by Moscow for the invasion and have accused Russian forces of war crimes, something Russia denies.

Polishchuk's comments come as Putin hailed the "liberation" of Mariupol, the southern port city at the center of a devastating siege by his forces.

The Russian president congratulated his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, for taking control of the city, much of which has been destroyed.

In a televised meeting shown on Thursday, Putin told Shoigu that Russian forces would not storm the Azovstal steel plant, the large industrial area where it is believed more than 1,500 civilians and injured soldiers are sheltering.

However, the Russian president did order the area to be blocked off so that even "a fly does not get through."

An assessment by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank said that Russia had only made "incremental advances in Mariupol and continued to set conditions to declare victory in the city by—at the latest—May 9."

General Sir Richard Barrons, former commander of the U.K.'s Joint Forces Command, told the BBC that the announcement about Mariupol allows Russia's military not to expend more resources on a battle for the steelworks which was militarily "irrelevant."

He said it would allow Russia to focus on "what really matters now—the battle of the Donbas," in the east of the country.

The mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, told a news conference that around 100,000 people remain in the besieged city. Around 200 people are waiting to evacuate and around 80 were evacuated on Wednesday.

The British Defense Ministry said that Russia would want to show off big military gains in its invasion before its annual commemoration of the end of World War II on May 9.

Update 04/21/22, 9:51 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Update 04/21/22, 12:01 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.