Moscow announced on Tuesday that it had launched “dozens of strikes in eastern Ukraine and wants to liberate it”, while the Russian foreign minister pointed to the start of a “new phase” in the two-month war.
A day after announcing a new, large-scale Russian military offensive in the Kyiv region, Ukrainian forces confirmed that the Russians were “intensifying their offensive” on the front lines in the east of the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that a “new phase of Russian military action” has begun. “I hope this will be a very important moment for this special event,” he added.
For his part, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “He followed the plan for the liberation of the pro-Russian separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (eastern Ukraine), drawn up by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he recognized their independence.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Russian Air Force had targeted 13 Ukrainian military bases with high-precision missiles and called on all Ukrainian soldiers to surrender. Despite the lack of humanitarian corridors, local authorities called on people to get out of this hell.
According to a senior US Defense Ministry official, Russia has strengthened its military presence in eastern and southern Ukraine with “11 battalions”, bringing the total number of battalions fighting in the country to 76.
AFP reporters saw buses carrying Ukrainian soldiers on their way to Gramadorsk in Donbass, while local authorities called on the public to evacuate the area.
“This is hell,” said Sergei Kaitoy, governor of Ukraine in the Lukansk region. “The attack, which has been announced for weeks, has begun,” he said.
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