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Russia Begins Donbas Offensive, Zelensky says – KyivPost

Massing Russian forces within the easternmost Ukrainian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk have “begun the battle for Donbas,” President Volodymyr Zelensky stated throughout his nightly cope with to the country  mins earlier than hour of darkness on April 18.

“It can now be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time. A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive,” he stated.

There at the moment are about 76 Russian battalion tactical teams (BTGs) inside of Ukraine, with the overwhelming majority within the east and southeast of Ukraine, U.S. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby advised newshounds in Washington on April 18.

That’s the identical of as much as 76,000 Russian troops and about 12,000 infantrymen are nonetheless engaged in looking to take over Mariupol, Donetsk area’s 2d biggest and strategically positioned town at the Azov Sea coast.

The U.S. army defines Russian BTGs as “a modular tactical organization created from a garrisoned Russian Army brigade to deploy combat power to conflict zones.”

“We have seen the Russians continue to flow in enablers, capabilities that will help them fight in the Donbas going forward,” Kirby elaborated. “That’s artillery, rotary aviation/helicopter support [and] command and control enablers. And we do believe that they [Russians] have reinforced the number of battalion tactical groups in the east and the south of Ukraine.”

A situational struggle map of Ukraine as of hour of darkness in Kyiv on April 19.

Zelensky remained defiant in his near-midnight cope with to the country, announcing that “no matter how many Russian troops they send there [the Donbas], we will fight.”

His leader of body of workers, Andriy Yermak, stated Ukraine’s military may just resist the offensive in “the second phase of the war,” Reuters reported.

Ukrainian forces had routed the invading Russian army round Kyiv and the areas of Chernihiv and Sumy in addition to portions of Kharkiv towards the top of March and starting of April.

The frontline of the Donbas is ready 450-500 kilometers.

Earlier on April 18, Valery Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated that Russia is focusing its efforts on breaking throughout the town of Izyum in Kharkiv area, the gateway to the Donetsk towns of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.

“The full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation against our state continues,” the Defense Ministry stated on Facebook at 6 a.m. Kyiv time. “The enemy is trying to continue offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as to maintain a land corridor with the temporarily occupied Crimea.”

Kremlin despot Vladimir ordered a renewed invasion of the rustic on Feb. 24 as a part of a struggle he has waged in opposition to the neighboring nation since 2014 when Russian troops forcibly seized the Crimean Peninsula and occupied a part of the Donbas territories.

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