‘New phase of war’: Moscow attacks along entire eastern Ukraine front

Russian Military Vehicles move on highwayNs News Online Desk:

Ns News Online Desk: Russian forces continue to shell the strategic port city of Mariupol and attack along the eastern front line as Moscow opens ‘a new phase of the war’ in Ukraine in a bid to seize the Donbass, the country’s industrial heartland As Moscow launches a “new phase of the war” in Ukraine, Russian forces are intensifying their offensive against Ukraine’s entire eastern front on Tuesday as part of a full-scale ground offensive to take control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Russia launched its long-awaited all-out assault on eastern Ukraine, unleashing thousands of troops in what Ukraine described as the “Battle of Donbass,” a campaign to seize two provinces and salvage a battlefield victory.

Ukrainian officials insisted their troops would withstand the new assault, which they said began overnight with massive Russian artillery and rocket barrages and attempts to advance across almost the entire stretch of the eastern front.

Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces are focusing their efforts on taking full control of the Donbass region. “The occupiers made an attempt to break through our defenses along nearly the entire front line,” the general staff said in a statement early Tuesday.

In southern Donetsk, the general staff said the Russian military has continued to blockade and shell the strategic port city of Mariupol and fire missiles at other cities.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also confirmed Moscow was starting a new stage of what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine. “Another stage of this operation (in eastern Ukraine) is beginning and I am sure this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation,” Lavrov said in an interview with the India Today TV channel.

Russian forces have seized the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine and Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the city, the regional governor said.

Kreminna, a city of more than 18,000 people about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of the capital Kyiv, appears to be the first city captured in a new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.

“Our defenders had to withdraw. They have entrenched themselves in new positions and continue to fight the Russian army,” Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, told a briefing.

He said Russian forces had attacked “from all sides.” “It is impossible to calculate the number of dead among the civilian population. We have official statistics – about 200 dead – but in reality, there are many more,” he said, without making clear what period the estimated death toll covered.

Russia has issued another ultimatum to Ukrainian fighters trapped in a steel plant because of the “catastrophic situation” in the embattled city of Mariupol. The Russian Defense Ministry offered on Tuesday the Ukrainian military in Ukraine’s Mariupol city to surrender, according to the ministry’s spokesperson.

Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Igor Konashenkov said Moscow offers the Ukrainian soldiers to announce a cease-fire at noon local time (9 a.m. GMT), then organize a communication channel, open a safe passage at 2 p.m. Moscow time (11 a.m. GMT) for the exit of the soldiers without weapons, which will be open until 4 p.m. (1 p.m. GMT).In Mariupol, Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard, said in a video message that Russia had begun dropping bunker-buster bombs on the Azovstal steel plant where the regiment was holding out.

The sprawling plant contains a warren of tunnels where both fighters and civilians are sheltering. It is believed to be the last major pocket of resistance in the shattered city.

Russia has Mariupol surrounded and has been fighting a bloody battle to seize it. If Russia takes Mariupol, it would free up troops for use elsewhere in Donbass, deprive Ukraine of a vital port and complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, seized from Ukraine from 2014.


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