Conflicts & War

Russia prepares offensive in east Ukraine as Mariupol hangs on

Kyiv, Apr 8 (EFE).- The Russian forces are preparing to launch an offensive in eastern Ukraine while also focusing efforts to capture the besieged city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian army said Thursday.

With the deadly conflict entering the ninth week, the Ukrainian army said the Russian forces were regrouping troops to complete the formation of the offensive group to capture the strategic coastal city of Mariupol near the Azov and the Black Sea.

The Russian forces claimed to have captured Mariupol Thursday, but Ukrainian forces said they had retained positions in the city.

According to an assessment by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Russian forces were likely to complete the capture of Mariupol “in the coming days.”

The fall of Mariupol would cut Ukraine off from access to the sea.

“The main efforts of the (Russian forces) are focused on capturing the city of Mariupol, conducting an offensive near the city of Izyum (on the Donets River in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine) and trying to break through the defense lines in the Donetsk direction,” the army said.

The military high command report said Ukrainian forces repulsed seven attacks by the Russian troops in the last 24 hours near the disputed eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Russian troops have continued the blockade of Kharkiv and have planted mines to prevent “the advance of Ukrainian troops.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski warned that the Russian troops were now more active in Donbas and reinforcing an offensive from there.

“Russian forces are likely to try to regroup and redeploy units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine to support an offensive, but these units are unlikely to allow a Russian advance,” he said. EFE


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