Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Monday the start of the Russian offensive against eastern Ukraine, part of which is in the hands of pro-Russian separatists and where deadly fighting has intensified.
The battle for the Donbass region has begun, Ukrainian leaders said on Monday. “We can now confirm that Russian troops have started the Battle of Donbass, which they have been preparing for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app. “A large part of the Russian army is now dedicated to this offensive”he added.
The announcement comes nearly two months into the invasion of Russia, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have struggled to gain much ground since the early days in the face of fierce resistance from efforts Ukrainian defenses and resumed concentrating on the territory of the eastern part. from Ukraine.
Zelensky has vowed not to cede any region of Ukraine to the Russians, stressing he doubts the Russian military will stop with Donbass, where Moscow-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have declared independence from Kyiv.
“Ukraine and the people of our states are absolutely clear: we don’t want anyone else’s territory, and we are not going to give up ours”Zelensky said in an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday.
“I don’t trust the Russian army and the Russian leadership. That’s why we understand that the fact that we repelled them and they left, and that they were fleeing kyiv, from the north, from Chernihiv and from that direction – that does not mean that if they are able to capture the Donbass, they will not go further to kyiv »he added.
Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, also said the new phase of the war had begun, with attempts by Russian forces to break through Ukraine’s defense in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv territories.
A town of Luhansk, which is part of the Donbass region, was taken over on Monday. Eight civilians were killed in the new invasion in Russian strikes, local officials said.
“No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves”Zelensky said Monday night.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed reports of a Russian offensive in the Donbas region.
“We still view what we see as a shaping operation, that the Russians continue to set the terms for what they believe will be eventual success on the ground”Kirby told reporters.
Meanwhile, the port city of Mariupol would be on the brink. With no way to replenish the small number of defenders, Mariupol’s downfall seems imminent, but the remaining fighters aren’t giving up.
“The city still hasn’t fallen. There are still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight until the end”Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told ABC.