Russia has now launched a major offensive into eastern Ukraine, authorities in Kyiv said, opening a new phase of its invasion after being thwarted in efforts to capture the capital.
The United States is due to hold a video meeting with allies Tuesday to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, where Moscow’s military campaign has refocused on the eastern region of Donbas, partly controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014.
“We can now confirm that Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, which they have been preparing for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Telegram late Monday.
“No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves.”
Control of Donbas would allow Moscow to create a southern corridor to the occupied Crimean peninsula.
In the south of the region, Russia continued its push to capture the besieged port city of Mariupol, where the last remaining Ukrainian forces have taken a final stand.
But despite the desperate situation in the city, a senior U.S. Defense Department official said Mariupol “is still contested.”
Monday saw the first shipments of a new U.S. military aid package arrive at Ukraine’s borders to be handed over in its fight against the Russian invasion.
The United States on April 13th unveiled an $800-million tranche of equipment for Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armored personnel carriers.
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