Ukraine braces for new Russian push into Donbass
Ukraine braced for another Russian push into the eastern Donbass region on Monday, as kyiv said its army’s counterattack around Kharkiv gained momentum.
Since its failure to take the capital at the start of the invasion in late February, control of Donbass has become one of Moscow’s main objectives – but Western intelligence has predicted its campaign will come to a halt amid heavy casualties and fierce resistance.
“We are preparing for new Russian attack attempts in Donbass, to somehow intensify its movement in southern Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his overnight address.
“The occupiers still don’t want to admit that they are at an impasse and that their so-called ‘special operation’ has already gone bankrupt,” he added.
Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich told local television that Russian troops were moving towards Donbass after withdrawing from Kharkiv following the Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Kyiv’s troops have advanced so far in the northern region that they have almost reached the border with Russia, according to Interior Ministry adviser Vadim Denisenko, although air raid sirens were still sounding in the city on Monday morning from Kharkov.
Arestovich said the retreating Russian forces were being sent towards Luhansk.
“Their task is to take Severodonetsk,” he said. “Well, something isn’t working for them.”
Severodonetsk is the easternmost city still held by Ukraine, and its fall would grant the Kremlin de facto control of Lugansk, one of the two regions – along with Donetsk – that make up Donbass.
But Russia’s attempt to cross a river to encircle it had been repelled with heavy equipment losses, according to Lugansk Governor Sergiy Gaiday.
To further deter the attack, Russian-occupied railway bridges leading to Severodonetsk were destroyed, the Ukrainian military said on its Facebook page on Sunday, posting video of a huge explosion taken from above.
For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have hit four artillery ammunition depots in the nearby city of Donetsk.
Airstrikes also destroyed two missile launchers and a radar, while 15 Ukrainian drones were shot down around Donetsk and Luhansk, he added.