In what Ukrainian officials described as a “new phase of the conflict,” Russian soldiers assaulted along a broad front in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday as part of a full-scale ground effort to take control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland.
Russian soldiers are concentrating their efforts on gaining complete control of the Donbas area, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. The General Staff stated in a statement released early Tuesday that “the occupants attempted to break through our fortifications along practically the entire frontline.”
The Russian forces attempted to advance in multiple areas, including from the adjacent Kharkiv region, along a front of more than 300 miles (480 kilometers), focusing on the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The Russian military has continued to blockade and shell the important port city of Mariupol, as well as launch missiles at other cities, according to the General Staff in southern Donetsk.
A “major portion of the whole Russian army is now concentrating on this attack,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised address on Monday.
Separatists supported by Russia have been battling Ukrainian soldiers in the predominantly Russian-speaking Donbas for eight years and have established two autonomous republics that Russia recognizes. Since its effort to grab Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, failed, Russia has proclaimed the Donbas to be its primary objective in the war.
“We will fight no matter how many Russian troops are sent there,” Zelenskyy said. “We’ll protect ourselves,” says the narrator.
According to Serhiy Haidai, the Luhansk regional military administrator, troops clashed in the streets of Kreminna on Monday until Russia was able to take control of the city.
According to Haidai, Russian soldiers “simply started leveling everything to the ground” before advancing. He said that his soldiers fled in order to reorganize and continue fighting.
The Russians are getting closer to Slovyansk, which is viewed as a crucial goal in the Russian operation, thanks to the breakthrough at Kreminna. Pro-Russian troops took Slovyansk in 2014, only to be retaken by Ukrainian forces months later after severe combat.
Russian forces have already taken control of the city of Izyum, which is located along a highway north of Slovyansk, and are preparing to attack the city from the north and east. Slovyansk is located close north of Kramatorsk, another important city where a Russian strike on a train station killed more than 50 people.
The defensive line has not been breached anywhere, according to Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, who spoke to Ukrainian media on Monday morning.
“Our military, fortunately, is holding out,” Danilov remarked.
Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Ukrainian National Guard’s Azov Unit, stated in a video message from Mariupol that Russia had started firing bunker-buster bombs on the Azovstal steel facility, where the regiment was holding out.
The enormous factory is home to a maze of tunnels where fighters and civilians alike seek refuge. It’s thought to be the devastated city’s last significant pocket of resistance.
Russia has encircled Mariupol and is conducting a brutal war to reclaim it. If Russia captures Mariupol, it will free up soldiers for deployment elsewhere in the Donbas, deprive Ukraine of a crucial port, and complete a land bridge connecting Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia has held since 2014.
At least seven persons were reported dead in missile attacks on Lviv in western Ukraine near the Polish border on Monday.
Lviv has served as a safe haven for citizens fleeing conflict abroad. To the chagrin of the Kremlin, the city has also become a significant transit point for NATO-supplied armaments.
According to Maksym Kozytskyy, the governor of the area, the attack targeted three military infrastructure buildings and an auto shop.
According to Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, a hotel that housed Ukrainians fleeing the violence in other regions of the nation was also heavily damaged.
“The nightmare of war has caught up with us even in Lviv,” Lyudmila Turchak, who left Kharkiv in the east with two children, said.
According to Associated Press journalists on the ground, shelling slammed Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing at least three people. Shelling could be heard in the key eastern city overnight and into Tuesday morning, despite the fact that it has been hit multiple times and remains firmly in Ukrainian control.
Moscow said its missiles hit military targets in eastern and central Ukraine, including ammo stores, command centers, and men and vehicles in groups. It said its artillery blasted hundreds of Ukrainian targets and that jets attacked soldiers and military equipment 108 times. The assertions could not be confirmed independently.
Russia is launching a “softening-up” campaign before of the Donbas offensive, according to Gen. Richard Dannatt, a former chief of the British Army.
According to a senior US defense official, there are now 76 Russian battalion tactical groups in eastern and southern Ukraine, up from 65 last week, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessments of the situation. Based on what the Pentagon indicated at the start of the conflict was the normal unit strength of 700 to 800 men, this might equate to about 50,000 to 60,000 troops.