What we know about the massive offensive launched by the Russian army to take control of Donbass

“We can now say that the Russian forces have started the battle of Donbass,” he added. The Ukrainian president, in a speech on Monday on Telegram, announced the start of the Russian offensive in the east of the country. A very large part of the entire Russian army is now devoted to this attack.”clearer Volodymyr Zelensky.

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On Tuesday, April 19, Russia confirmed that it was launching a major military offensive in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, reiterating its desire to “release” Donbass. The Russian army performs the tasks set by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces [Vladimir Poutine] for special military operationsaid Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who has not spoken publicly since the end of March.

Here is what we know about this new phase of the war in Ukraine, 55 days after the start of the invasion by the Russian army.

Battles and shelling in several Donbass cities

“It’s hell. The attack, we’ve been talking about for weeks, has begun,” He announced on Facebook Serguiï Gaïdaï, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk, while The conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists has been raging since 2014 across this region of the country.

“There are battles in Rubizhne and Popasna” And “Continuous Fighting in Other Peaceful Cities”he added sergey gaidiclaiming that Karimina was “Unfortunately under the control of orcs”, a pejorative title given to the Russian army. This city, which had a population of about 18,000 before the war, is located about fifty kilometers northeast of Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian capital of the Donbass coalfield. But Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Oleksiy Aristovich, confirmed this “The Russian occupiers have not yet defeated Kremena” and that from‘Intense street fighting’ It was running there.

The Ukrainian army also warned on Monday evening of the danger of severe shelling in the southern Mykolaiv region.

The intense battle of Mariupol continues

On Tuesday morning, Mariupol City Council announced the bombing of the Azovstal plant and confirmed on Telegram that“At least 1,000 civilians – mostly women, children and the elderly – are in underground shelters” from the mineral complex. According to the Special Envoy From France Télévisions Luc Lacroix, Azovstal is “else Ukrainian resistance pocket. sWhen you get close, it’s a real flood of fire. (…) This battle Mariupol is still amassing Russian and separatist forces. He always prevents them from directing all their firepower towards the north In the Donbass, where they want to carry out their big offensive, “ He explains. “Our soldiers are still there and they will fight to the end.”Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyal fired.

A complete conquest of the port city of Mariupol would be a major strategic acquisition for the Kremlin because it would allow the Russians to consolidate their coastal territorial gains along the Sea of ​​Azov by connecting the Donbas River, partly controlled by their supporters, with Crimea. annexed by Moscow in 2014.

‘Many civilians’ are still entrenched

For several days, the Ukrainian authorities have been calling on the residents of these areas to move west. If this call was heard, many residents also chose to stay. As the offensive intensified, evacuations became increasingly risky. The governor said at least four civilians were killed in Russian shelling as they tried to flee Karimina Sergejjic Gaiditch, from Residents urged to evacuate Luhansk region.

An evacuation corridor for civilians was not organized on Tuesday, due to the lack of an agreement with the Russian side, and for the third day in a row, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Irina Vereshchuk, expressed regret. The day before, she had asked Moscow to open humanitarian corridors in Berdyansk and Mariupol. “Your refusal to open these humanitarian corridors will serve in the future as elements of legal proceedings against all those implicated in war crimes.”warned on Telegram.

Strengthening the Russian military presence

According to a senior official in the US Department of Defense (in English)Russia increased by “Eleven Battalions” Within one week of its military presence in eastern and southern Ukraine, bringing the country’s total battalion to 76, 12 of them were still massed in Mariupol. According to the same official, it is likely that in northern Ukraine, about 22 battalions will be resupplied and equipped. These units consist of air defense weapons, armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, artillery, helicopters, military engineering and logistical support elements.

“The enemy continues to transfer weapons and military equipment to Ukraine from the central and eastern regions of the Russian Federation.”On Tuesday, the Staff of the Ukrainian Army said. The Tor anti-aircraft missile teams were transferred to the Kharkiv region (northeast), and the S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft systems were deployed in the Russian Belgorod region, near the border with Ukraine, according to the same source.

Vladimir Putin needs results by May 9

“Plan for the Liberation of the People’s Republics [autoproclamées] Donetsk and Luhansk”Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday, according to the Kremlin’s will. Why launch this attack in these breakaway regions now? After the failure to bring down the capital, Kyiv, “Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation need to show some victory after the failures they have suffered”it is estimated, Tuesday morning, in franceinfo, Valeria Faure Montaigne, LREM deputy and head of the Franco-Ukrainian friendship group in the association.

Face For nearly two months in the face of fierce resistance from the Ukrainians, the Russian president wanted to make headway before the military parade on May 9, marking the Soviet victory over the Nazis, in 1945. “There is a sense of urgency, because the Kremlin wants, for political reasons, to quickly deliver a victory to its population, and in particular to justify losses.”underlined with the world Vincent Tourette, Researcher at the Strategic Research Foundation.

“Vladimir Putin is doing everything he can in this attack” and therefore has “Need to get this achievement”And Monday analysis in franceinfo General Jerome Belestrandi, editor in chief of the magazine National Defense. “It will be an old world war with artillery and shooting everywhere (…) it will be very, very violent, because there, the Russian army can no longer retreat”as predicted, in early April, General Dominic Trinquand.

US increases arms shipments to Ukraine

In this context, the United States announced, on Monday, that the first shipments of its new military aid (800 million dollars) to Ukraine have just arrived at the country’s borders. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the soldiers deployed on the eastern side of NATO since the start of the Russian invasion will begin “In the coming days” To train Ukrainian soldiers to handle the M777 howitzers, the latest generation of artillery pieces that the United States decided to hand over to the Ukrainian army for the first time.

Even if the approach to them is not fundamentally different from the artillery that the Ukrainian army is familiar with, these guns use 155 mm shells, which are used by NATO countries, while Ukraine does not yet have Russian-made 152 mm shells. US President Joe Biden will also attend a meeting on Tuesday devoted to the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

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