MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday its "special military operation" in Ukraine must continue at least until the capture of all of east Ukraine's Donetsk region.
In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) - a breakaway Russian-backed entity that has been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 - controls only part of the wider territory which it claims.
"Therefore it is necessary, as a minimum, to liberate the entire territory of the DPR,", he said.
Russia has framed its military campaign in Ukraine as necessary to protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, of which Donetsk makes up half, from "genocide" by Ukraine. Both Kyiv and Western countries say this is a figleaf for an imperial-style land grab.
Though Russia already controls almost all of Luhansk region, the other half of the Donbas, it holds only around 60% of Donetsk region.
The Moscow-backed entities in Donetsk and Luhansk, alongside two other Russian-occupied regions in southern Ukraine, are seeking to become part of Russia after they completed on Tuesday what Kyiv and Western governments described as sham referendums on joining Russia.
(Reporting by Reuters)