Comments made by a Russian defense official on Friday are being interpreted as a signal that Moscow may be "scaling back its ambitions in Ukraine," as Reuters puts it. Maj. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi declared that the "first stage" of its military operation had been "mainly accomplished," and that Russian forces would now focus on the eastern region of Donbas, reports the New York Times. Russia has yet to capture a major city, but Rudskoi cast that in rosy terms, suggesting it was never the goal, per Bloomberg. He said Russia's bombardment of the country had "significantly reduced" Ukraine's ability to fight, which "makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbas," per Reuters.
Rudskoi "does not exclude" the possibility that Russia will eventually decide to try to capture major cities such as Kyiv, but he said that isn't the military's primary objective. The Times ("Russia signaled on Friday it may be reducing its war aims") and Bloomberg ("potentially a sign it's backing away from hopes of taking larger swathes of the country") had similar assessments to the one by Reuters. Pro-Russian separatists have been fighting in the Donbas region for several years. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)