Conflicts & War

Russia increases hostilities in eastern Ukraine as invasion milestone looms

Lviv, Ukraine, Feb 9 (EFE).- Russia has ramped up its offensive in eastern Ukraine, especially in the region of Luhansk, Ukrainian officials warned Thursday as the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion looms.

Serhiy Haidai, Luhank’s governor, said in a Telegram post that Russian forces have “significantly” increased their attacks on the area around Kremina and nearby settlements in what Kyiv views as push by Russia in its attempts to take control of both Luhansk and Donetsk, Ukraine’s easternmost regions collectively known as Donbas.

Russian president Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Luhansk and Donetsk – despite not being in full control of either – along with two other partially-occupied regions in September last year.

Ukraine’s government believes the Russian offensives are brewing ahead of the first year anniversary of the invasion on February 24.

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, told state TV Thursday that there would be “an escalation.”

“Their main objective is the east and the Donbas. Other areas could be affected, too, but these attacks will principally be to divert and delay Ukrainian forces,” he said.

Intelligence reports suggest Putin has ordered his military leadership to take full control over Luhansk and Donetsk by the end of March.

Yusov said there were 300,000 Russian “invaders” in Ukraine but added that Russia’s military lacked quality.

The warnings of a looming Russian offensive were echoed by the United States-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War.

“Russian forces have regained the initiative in Ukraine and have begun their next major offensive in Luhansk Oblast,” it said in its Wednesday report.

“The pace of Russian operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line in western Luhansk Oblast has increased markedly over the past week.”

Ukrainian counter offensives last year pushed Russian troops from the Kharkiv region and swathes of the southern Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, including Kherson city, the only regional capital that had been seized by Russian troops since the invasion.

Heavy fighting continues in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, large areas of which have been under Russian separatist control since 2014. EFE


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