Russia Declares Start Of New Offensive In Eastern Ukraine
April 20, 2022
6 Min Read
Russia declared Tuesday that it has launched its new offensive for control of eastern Ukraine with the bombardment of targets across the Donbas region, but Ukraine said it is defending the territory and repulsing some of the initial attacks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “Another phase of this operation is starting now,” and that Moscow’s goal is the “complete liberation” of the Donetsk and Luhansk territories in the east.
Luhansk’s governor said that the eastern city of Kreminna is now “under the control” of Russian forces, which could allow Russia to advance on Kramatorsk, capital of the Donbas region.
But Ukraine said that it had repulsed seven different Russian attacks in several battles, destroying 10 tanks and 18 armored units.
“Now, we can already state that the Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address late Monday.
He said a “significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive,” strategic areas in the eastern part of the country that would allow Russia to link with the Crimean Peninsula it seized eight years ago. The U.S. Defense Department estimated that Russia has already sent 11 more battalion tactical groups into Ukraine, about 8,000 to 11,000 more soldiers.
The Donbas region includes Luhansk and Donetsk, two provinces that are already partly held by Russian-backed separatists, along with the besieged port city of Mariupol to the south.
Moscow continued to demand the surrender of Ukrainian forces holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol. “All who lay down their arms are guaranteed the preservation of life,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said, but a new deadline passed with no surrender.
Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted a call Tuesday with U.S. allies to discuss the ongoing war. His administration said it has ramped up arms delivery to Ukraine, which the United States said is occurring at “unprecedented speed.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that Russia has been moving “artillery, rotary aviation, helicopter support, command and control enablers” to aid its Donbas efforts.
Humanitarian officials have raised concerns about disruptions in getting supplies to people in areas that have seen some of the worst violence, including Mariupol, and to establish safe corridors for civilians to flee to safety.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Tuesday there would be no humanitarian corridors active for a third consecutive day due to a lack of agreement with Russia.
U.N. relief chief Martin Griffiths told reporters Monday that the two sides need to negotiate a meaningful cease-fire in order to facilitate getting help to civilians.
“On the humanitarian side, we need to have much, much more willing acceptance, primarily of the Russian Federation, to allow convoys in and convoys out in these placesof great need,” Griffiths said. “And we need in those places where the war has for the moment moved on to provide urgent emergency, if you like humanitarian assistance, to get people to be able to see their homes again and maybe reach them.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the United States will “continue to expand our sanctions targets [against Russia] and continue to take steps to both further tighten our sanctions to prevent evasion.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin contended Monday during a video call with economic officials that the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies had failed.
In Denmark, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said his country should move as quickly as possible to be independent of Russian gas supplies. Denmark will boost its production of natural gas for a limited time while also working to produce as much energy from renewable sources as it can, Frederiksen said.
“We are convinced it’s better to produce gas in the North Sea than buying it from Vladimir Putin,” Frederiksen said. European Union members rely on Russian gas imports to meet about 40% of their needs, but Denmark is not among EU countries most dependent on Russia for energy.
Zelenskyy has urged EU countries to halt their Russian energy imports and for Western nations to sanction the Russian oil industry in order to pressure Putin to halt the invasion.
While some leaders have expressed a willingness to reduce or end the imports, they have also cited fears of the effects that a quick cutoff would have on their own economies.