The slower pace of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine is deliberate to reduce civilian casualties, the country's defense minister said on Wednesday, as Ukraine marks its Independence Day.
"Everything is being done to avoid casualties. Of course, this slows down the pace of attacks. But we are doing this deliberately," Sergei Shoigu told a defense ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan.
He added that the "special military operation," launched against Ukraine in February, is progressing according to the plan and all objectives will be achieved.
Shoigu said supply of weapons to Ukraine increased casualties, and prolonged the armed conflict.
“The goal of the US and its collaborators is to warn other states that pursue an independent foreign policy and the strategic attrition of Russia to eliminate competition.” he said.
The minister said the Pentagon has confirmed it is funding more than 30 Ukrainian biological labs, adding that such actions that develop components of biological weapons pose a direct threat to SCO member states.
Moscow says the war is meant to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine. Russian forces claimed control of Luhansk in July, and since then have focused on capturing Donetsk, the two self-proclaimed republics in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.