Gaining control of the Donbas region is the goal of the second phase of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine, a Russian military commander said on Friday.
Speaking at a meeting of the Union of Defense Industry Enterprises in Russia's Sverdlovsk region, commander of the central military district Rustam Minnekayev said control over Donbas will open a ground passage from Russia to Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.
"Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation two days ago, one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over Donbas and southern Ukraine," Minnekayev said.
He compared the Russia-Ukraine war with World War II, saying Russia is fighting against the whole world.
"We are now at war with the whole world, as it was in the Great Patriotic War when entire Europe and the whole world was against us. They never liked Russia," he said, adding the same war is happening now.
The goals will be achieved and the special operation will be successfully brought to a logical conclusion, he said.
At least 2,345 civilians have been killed and 2,919 injured in Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates, with the true figure believed to be much higher.
More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7.7 million more internally displaced, said the UN refugee agency.