Putin vows to press invasion until Russia’s goals are met

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has vowed that Russia’s bloody offensive in Ukraine would continue until its goals are fulfilled. He insisted Tuesday the campaign was going as planned, despite a major withdrawal in the face of stiff Ukrainian opposition and significant losses.

Russian troops have been thwarted in their push toward Ukraine’s capital and are now focusing on the eastern Donbas region.

Ukraine said Tuesday it was investigating a claim that a poisonous substance had been dropped on its troops there. It was not clear what the substance might be, but Western officials warned that any use of chemical weapons by Russia would be a serious escalation of the already devastating war.

Russia invaded on Feb. 24, with the goal, according to Western officials, of taking Kyiv, toppling the government and installing a Moscow-friendly regime. In the six weeks since, Russia’s ground advance stalled, its forces lost potentially thousands of fighters and the military was accused of killing civilians and other atrocities.

Putin insisted Tuesday that his invasion aimed to protect people in parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed rebels and to “ensure Russia’s own security.”