Russia will remain “forever” in southern Ukraine, senior Russian parliamentary official Andrei Tourchak said on Friday during a visit to Kherson, a major Ukrainian city which Moscow has claimed full control since March.
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“Speaking to the residents of the Kherson region, I would like to say once again that Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about it”, declared Mr. Turtchak, first assistant to the president of the Council of the Federation (upper house of Parliament), quoted by the public news agency RIA Novosti.
It is the first time that a senior Russian official has announced Moscow’s intention to stay in the territories taken by the Russian army since the start of the operation in Ukraine on February 24.
Russia has so far maintained that one of its main aims is to “denazify” its neighbor.
“There will be no going back to the past. We are going to live together, to develop this rich region, rich in its historical heritage, in its people who live here,” assured Mr. Tourtchak.
Also secretary of the general council of the ruling party United Russia, he announced the forthcoming opening of a Russian logistics center for humanitarian aid in Kherson.
This center, which will be set up by United Russia, will deal in particular with the delivery of food and basic necessities and medicines, according to the same source.
The city of Kherson, close to Crimea annexed by Moscow in 2014, is the first and so far the only city of Ukrainian importance that the Russians have taken complete control of since the start of their offensive in Ukraine on February 24. They claimed to have taken it on March 3.
The Russian administration of this coastal city has already announced its intention to introduce the ruble there to replace the Ukrainian currency from May 1.