MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Russia begins another stage of its special military operation in Ukraine to liberate the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR respectively), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.
"Another stage of this operation (in eastern Ukraine) is beginning and I am sure this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation," Lavrov said speaking in an interview with India Today television channel.
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Russia recognized the Donbass republics in accordance with the DPR and LPR constitutions within the boundaries of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as of the beginning of 2014.
Russian President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, noting that the operation was aimed at the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.