Russian forces launched a new offensive push along most of Ukraine’s eastern flank on Monday and the “Battle of Donbas” has now begun, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and senior officials said.
Russia launched its long-feared, full-scale offensive to take control of Ukraine’s east on Monday, attacking along a broad front over 480km (300 miles) long, Ukrainian officials said in what marked the opening of a new and potentially climactic phase of the war.
In recent weeks, Russia’s military campaign has refocused on the eastern region of Donbas, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014. Donbas is also home to much of Ukraine’s industrial wealth, including coal and steel.
“We can now confirm that Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, which they have been preparing for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Telegram late Monday.
“No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves.”
Ahead of the widely anticipated advance, Ukrainian authorities had urged people in Donbas to flee west to escape.
Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak called it “the second phase of the war” and assured Ukrainians that their forces could hold off the offensive. “Believe in our army, it is very strong,” he said.
Driven back by Ukrainian resistance in the north, Moscow has refocused its ground offensive in the two eastern provinces known as the Donbas, while launching long-distance strikes at other targets including the capital, Kyiv.
In the south of Donbas, Russia continued its push to capture the besieged port city of Mariupol, where the last remaining Ukrainian forces have taken a final stand.
Explosions also rocked Lviv on Monday in a rare and deadly attack on the western Ukrainian city — up to now a safe hub for refugees, Western officials and the media — as the world braces for a major Russian offensive farther east.
At least seven people were killed in the Russian missile strikes, Ukrainian officials said, with Russian forces striking areas across Ukraine while readying a new ground offensive in the east.
— The foxbat (@IndiandefenceNS) April 18, 2022
In the area of Izyum, a large military convoy was observed, consisting mainly of Grad multiple rocket launchers. Only in the presented image, it was possible to count at least 12 multiple launch rocket systems, but the number of such systems could be many times higher. Considering the direction of movement of the Grad MLRS column, large-scale attacks on the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass should be expected in the near future.
If you look closely then from past few days suddenly Russia goes all in, bringing many advanced machines to Ukraine’s battlefield like Terminator 2, using strategic bomber Tu-22M3 to bomb Mariupol, destroyed many military facilities of Ukraine.