MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused on Tuesday to comment on the Ukrainian intelligence service’s recent speculations that Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly ordered Chief of Russia’s General Staff and Commander of the Russian group of forces in Ukraine Valery Gerasimov to liberate the territory of Donbass before March 2023.
Asked at a news conference to comment on the speculations, Peskov replied: "No, I cannot [comment on it] and have zero intention of doing it."
A number of web media outlets circulated reports earlier citing Andrey Yusov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian intelligence service, as saying that Putin issued an order to liberate Donbass by March and that the Russian Armed Forces would focus on assault operations across the entire territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
On January 11, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu made new appointments in the military command of the special military operation in Ukraine. The decision to raise the level of military command in the special military operation is related "to the broader scope of missions tackled in its course and the need to organize closer coordination among military branches and services of the armed forces and also the increased quality of all types of logistics support and efficiency in command and control of the groups of troops (forces), the Russian Defense Ministry stated earlier.
Russia’s special military operation
On February 21, 2022, President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was recognizing the sovereignty of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics DPR and LPR respectively). Russia signed agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with their leaders. Moscow 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 announced on February 24, 2022 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics for assistance, he had decided to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine. The DPR and the LPR launched an operation to liberate their territories under Kiev’s control.
From September 23 to September 27, 2022, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic as well as the Kherson Region and the Zaporozhye Region held a referendum where the majority of voters opted to join Russia.
On September 30, 2022, Russian President Putin and the heads of the DPR, the LPR, and the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions signed treaties on their accession to Russia. Later, the State Duma and the Federation Council (the lower and upper houses of Russia’s parliament) approved legislation on ratifying these treaties, as well as federal constitutional laws on the accession of the four regions to Russia.