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Russia to keep up military op. 'at least' until Donetsk's liberation: Peskov

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russia says it is going to keep up its underway military operation in Ukraine until liberation of the entire eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remarks concerning the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), which broke away from Ukraine in 2014, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.

Russia began the "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, saying it was aimed at “demilitarizing” the Ukrainian region of Donbas, which is made up of Donetsk and its neighboring republic of Luhansk.

"You know, not all the territory of the DPR has been liberated yet. We are talking about the territory within the borders as of 2014. So, we need to liberate at least all the territory of the DPR," Peskov said.

Earlier this month, Donetsk and Luhansk as well as two southern Ukrainian regions, known as Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, hosted referendums, through which they voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

According to the foursome regions' officials, 99.23 of the voters in Donetsk, 98.42 percent in Luhansk, 87.05 percent in Kherson, and around 93 percent of residents in Zaporizhzhia have approved of their regions' integration into Russia.

Together, the regions make up around 15% of Ukraine's territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to formally announce the regions' integration into the Russian Federation in a matter of days.

The plebiscites harked back to a similar vote held in 2014, during which Ukraine's Crimea peninsula voted to join Russia.

Kiev and its Western allies, though, describe the votes as "sham."

The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow since the onset of the Russian military operation.

The Western states have also been pumping Ukraine full of advanced weapons in a move that Moscow says only prolongs the conflict.

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