A senior Russian military official said on Wednesday that his country had “deliberately” slowed aggression against Ukrainian forces because of what he claims was to avoid further civilian casualties in the war that began with the Russian invasion. February 24.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the comments in front of other defense ministers at a meeting of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan, Moscow time reported, Shoigu adding that Russia strictly adheres to “the norms of humanitarian law”.
His words come as Russian forces have met with a stronger than expected response from Ukrainian fighters, missing major military victories since overrunning the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk earlier this summer.
“Of course it slows down the pace of offense,” Shoigu said.
According to the Pentagon, Russian casualties – wounded and dead – combined were estimated at between 70,000 and 80,000.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 13,477 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 5,587 dead and 7,890 injured, up to August 21.
The number includes 7,620 casualties (3,317 killed, 4,303 injured) in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and 1,475 (302 killed, 1,173 injured) in Russian-controlled territory containing their armed forces and affiliated armed groups.
“Most of the recorded civilian casualties were caused by the use of wide-area explosive weapons, including heavy artillery bombardments, multiple rocket launchers, missiles and airstrikes,” reported the OHCHR, adding that the actual numbers are likely “significantly higher”. .”
On Tuesday, Konstantin Dolgov, Russia’s former commissioner for human rights, defended his country’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it was Russia that provided security for Ukraine, Europe and the world. world.
The New Voice of Ukraine reported that Shoigu had falsely repeated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “necessary” due to “real threats from Kyiv against the people of Donbass” without mentioning the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its effects on the past eight years on the people of Donbass.
Shoigu also alleged that Ukraine refused to comply with the Minsk agreements, NHK reported, posing a threat to residents of the Donbass region and Russia.
Russia and Ukraine finalized agreements in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in 2015 aimed at mitigating physical aggression in Ukraine’s eastern region, including measures such as a ceasefire, release prisoners of war, the elimination of heavy weapons on the front lines and the restoration of the border to Ukraine while approving its autonomy in certain parts of Donbass.
Just days before Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Minsk agreements “do not exist”, adding that Russia has no incentive to implement them. work if his country recognizes the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Shoigu recently touted partnerships with “friendly states” like Burundi, the Republic of Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Ethiopia and the Republic of South Africa when he was asked whether Russia was isolating itself globally.
He also claimed that Russia was protecting the world from a Ukrainian nuclear attack, not the other way around.
“From a military point of view, it is not necessary to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve our goals,” Shoigu said. “The main mission of the Russian nuclear forces is to provide a deterrent against a nuclear attack.”
Newsweek contacted Shoigu’s office for comment.