Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Russian forces had launched a large-scale offensive in the “peaceful cities” in the east of the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that a large-scale Russian offensive in the eastern Donbass region had begun.
Now we can confirm that the Russian troops began the battle of Donbass, which they have been preparing for a long time. He said on Telegram on Monday that a large part of the Russian army is dedicated to this attack.
No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves.”
“The second phase of the war has begun,” the head of the Ukrainian presidential office said.
Fighting intensified in eastern Ukraine after Russia withdrew its forces from the area around the capital Kyiv and refocused its efforts on the Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.
Shortly before Zelensky’s speech, the regional governor of the eastern Lugansk region Sergey Gaidai also announced the start of the long-awaited Russian offensive.
“It’s hell. The offensive, which we’ve been talking about for weeks, has begun. There is fighting going on in Rupizhny and Popasna, fighting in other peaceful cities.
Russian bombing killed at least eight civilians in eastern Ukraine on Monday, according to local authorities.
Gaidai said four people were killed while trying to flee the city of Kremina in Lugansk, which was captured by Russian forces on Monday.
And in the neighboring Donetsk region, the region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilenko, said four more civilians were killed after the Russian bombing.
The Ukrainian army has been expecting a major Russian offensive in the Donbass region for weeks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he launched the military operation to save the Russian-speaking population in the region from a “genocide” carried out by the “neo-Nazi” Kyiv regime.
Putin recognized the independence of two of the self-declared breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk shortly before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24.
The Pentagon did not contest the Ukrainian reports, Monday, but described the attacks as “shaping operations” in preparation for a larger attack in the future.
“We continue to consider that what we’re seeing is part of shaping operations and that the Russians continue to create the conditions for what they believe will be an eventual success on the ground,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
We believe that the Russians are shaping up and preparing the conditions for future offensive operations. We also see that there is active fighting going on in the Donbass – as it has in the past several weeks.”
Donbass, made up primarily of the Luhansk and Donetsk states along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, has been the site of intermittent fighting since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Moscow’s simultaneous support for Donbass separatist movements.
After Russian forces failed to seize Kyiv last month, the Kremlin announced it was refocusing its efforts on capturing Donbass, while continuing to bomb all of Ukraine.
Monday’s reports of fighting in the area come days after Russian forces were massed near the city of Izyum in Kharkiv province just outside Donbass.
The attack also comes just hours after a large-scale Russian bombing campaign targeting targets across Ukraine, including as far west as Lviv, near the Polish border. The Russian authorities reported bombing military targets in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya, Dnipro and Mykolaiv, as well as in Donetsk in the heart of the Donbass.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon estimates that Russia has beefed up its forces in southern and eastern Ukraine, adding tens of thousands of troops to the region via at least a dozen new tactical groups.
Mariupol, a strategic port city in southern Donbass, continued to withstand the Russian onslaught, although its defenders dwindled. Ukrainian control of the city is the main obstacle to the entry of Russian forces in Crimea into the Donbass.
Experts predicted that any large-scale Russian attack on the Donbass would occur after the capture of Mariupol.
This story originally appeared in New York Post It was reproduced with permission.
Originally Posted as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Russia launched a new offensive in the Donbass region