Russia has launched its full-scale offensive to take control of Ukraine’s east, President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced. In a video address on Monday, (April 18), he said Russian troops had launched an effort to break through Ukrainian front lines in three Eastern regions.
“Now we can already state that the Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” said the Ukrainian President. I have added a ‘significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive’.
The Donbas is Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial heartland in the east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for the past eight years and have declared two independent republics that have been recognized by Russia. But in recent weeks, the Kremlin said the capture of the Donbas was its main goal of the war after its attempt to storm Kyiv failed.
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The announcement came as Russia bombarded the western city of Lviv and numerous other targets across Ukraine in an intensified bid to grind down the country’s defenses. At the same time, the Kremlin continued building up its forces in the east.
At least seven people were reported killed in the missile strikes on Lviv, a city close to the Polish border that has seen only sporadic attacks during almost two months of war and has become a haven for civilians fleeing the fighting elsewhere. “No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight,” Mr Zelensky vowed. “We will defend ourselves. We will do it every day.”
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said on Monday that Russian forces had launched an effort to break through Ukrainian front lines in three regions – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv. He said: “Today, almost along the entire front line of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv regions, the occupiers tried to break through our defenses.
“Fortunately, our military is holding on, and only in two cities the Russian’s have passed: Kreminna and another small town. But the fighting continues, we are not surrendering our territories and the attempt to start an active phase has begun this morning.”