On Tuesday, Russian forces attacked an area of eastern Ukraine along a wide front as part of a large-scale ground offensive to seize control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland. This was described by Ukrainian officials as a “new phase” of war.
According to the General Staff of Ukraine, Russian forces are now focusing their efforts in the Donbas area. The General Staff stated in a statement that the occupiers attempted to breach our defenses along the entire frontline.
Monday’s intensified assaults were focused on Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The front stretched for more than 300 miles (480 km). Russian forces tried to advance in many sections, including from the neighbouring Kharkiv region.
According to the General Staff, in southern Donetsk the Russian military continues to shell and blockade the strategically important port city Mariupol as well as firing missiles at other cities.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, stated in a video address Monday that a “significant portion” of Russia’s army was now focusing on this offensive.
Moscow-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian forces in the predominantly Russian-speaking Donbas for eight years. They have also declared two independent republics, which have been recognised by Russia. Russia declared the main objective of the war, since Kyiv’s attempt to take the capital was unsuccessful, to capture the Donbas.
Zelenskyy declared, “No matter how many Russian troops we drive there, they will fight,” “We will defend ourself.”
According to Serhiy Haidai (Luhansk regional military administrator), troops fought in the streets of Kreminna Monday before Russia was able take control of the city.
Haidai stated that Russian forces had “just started leveling all the ground” before they advanced. He added that his forces then retreated in order to regroup and continue fighting.
Kreminna’s breakthrough brings the Russians closer towards Slovyansk which is a key target of the Russian offensive. In 2014, pro-Russian fighters seized Slovyansk. However, the city was retaken months later by Ukrainian forces after intense fighting.
Russian troops have already taken the city of Izyum along a highway north from Slovyansk and are now poised to push towards the city from the east and north. Slovyansk is just north of Kramatorsk. This city was the site of a Russian attack that killed more than 50 people at a train station.
Oleksiy Danilov (secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council) told Ukrainian media on Monday that the defensive line was not broken elsewhere.
Danilov stated, “Fortunately our military is holding on,”
Denys Prokopenko (commander of the Azov Regiment, Ukrainian National Guard) stated in Mariupol that Russia had started dropping bomber-buster missiles on the Azovstal Steel plant, where the regiment was still holding out.
This sprawling plant has a network of tunnels that provide shelter for both civilians and fighters. This is thought to be the last remaining major resistance area in the destroyed city.
Russia has Mariupol in its hands and is fighting a bloody war to take it. Russia would be able to take Mariupol and free its troops from the Donbas. It would also deprive Ukraine a crucial port and create a land bridge between Russia, Russia, and the Crimean Peninsula that was seized from Ukraine in 2014.
At least seven people were killed in Monday’s missile strike on Lviv, Ukraine’s western border.
Lviv has served as a refuge for civilians fleeing conflict elsewhere. The Kremlin is growing angry that Lviv has become a major gateway to NATO-supplied weapons.
According to Maksym Kozytskyy, the governor of the region, the attack targeted three military infrastructure facilities as well as an auto shop.
According to Andriy Sadovyi, the Lviv Mayor, the hotel that housed Ukrainians fleeing the fighting in other regions of Ukraine was also severely damaged.
Lyudmila Turchak fled Kharkiv with her two children in the east because “the nightmare of war has seized us even in Lviv,” she said.
According to Associated Press journalists, at least three people were killed in Monday’s shelling attack on Kharkiv. The major eastern city of Kharkiv was hit by shelling overnight and Tuesday morning. Although it has been attacked many times, it remains under Ukrainian control.
Moscow claimed that its missiles hit military targets in Eastern and Central Ukraine, including ammunition depots and command headquarters. It also reported that it struck groups of troops, vehicles, and troopers. According to Moscow, its artillery had hit hundreds of targets in Ukraine and warplanes had conducted 108 strikes against troops and military equipment. These claims were not independently verified.
Sky News’ Gen. Richard Dannatt, an ex-head of the British Army, stated that Russia was conducting a “softening up” campaign in advance of the Donbas offensive.
According to a senior U.S. defense officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss Pentagon’s assessments of war, there are now 76 Russian combat units (also known as battalion tactic groups) in eastern and south Ukraine. This is an increase of 65 units last week. Based on the Pentagon’s initial assessment of the war, the average unit strength was 700-800 soldiers. This could translate into 50,000 to 60,000 troops.