Kyiv, Apr 7 (EFE).- Russian troops have completed their withdrawal from Kyiv and the surrounding areas in northern Ukraine, with Moscow’s forces regrouping ahead of an imminent attack on the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the coming days.
Ahead of the expected onslaught, Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday night urged residents of eastern Ukraine to evacuate “as long as this possibility exists”, triggering an exodus of thousands of people.
Russia continues to prepare its offensive in eastern Ukraine, with their aim being seizing control of the entire Donbas region, according to the Ukrainian army’s general staff.
“The occupiers are focusing major efforts on preparing for an offensive operation in eastern Ukraine to gain full control over Donetsk Region and Luhansk Region,” an army statement said.
According to the US-based Institute for the Study of War, in the last 24 hours Russian forces had completed their withdrawal from the northeastern region of Sumy, and part of that contingent was being transferred to the Russian city of Belgorod, close to the border, for “further deployment to Izyum or Donbas.”
“Russian forces may be preparing for a larger offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in the coming days, but are unlikely to generate the combat power necessary to break through Ukrainian defenses in continuing frontal assaults,” the institute said.
Russian troops that remained near the capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv have pulled out, according to the Pentagon.
In a phone call with journalists, a US defense spokesman said Moscow’s forces were heading to Belarus and Russia to regroup.
The southern city of Mariupol, which has borne the brunt of much of Russia’s invasion, remains isolated and surrounded, but contrary to pro-Russian reports, the city has not fallen and remains in Ukrainian hands.
“Mariupol is still not taken,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Wednesday night. “Mr. Putin has achieved exactly zero of his strategic objectives inside Ukraine. He didn’t take Kyiv. He didn’t topple the government. He didn’t remove Ukraine as a nation state. And he’s really only taken control of a small number of population centers.” EFE