Russia trying to encircle cities in Donbas region, UK intelligence says

Associated Press/Rodrigo Abd
A Ukrainian soldier stands on top of a destroyed Russian tank on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 31, 2022.

Russian forces in a new offensive are pushing to encircle key cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region but are meeting fierce resistance, according to British military intelligence.

The United Kingdom’s defense ministry tweeted on Tuesday that Russia is seeking to encircle the cities of Lysychansk, Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk, but troops are being met by “strong Ukrainian resistance” from dug-in defenders.

All three cities are located in and around the Luhansk region, which, along with the Donetsk region, has seen fighting since 2014 by Russian-backed separatist forces.

UK intelligence said if Russian troops seize the city of Sievierodonetsk, Russia would effectively bring the Luhansk under Moscow’s control.

After failing to capture key cities and territory in the western part of Ukraine, including the capitol region of Kyiv, Russia regrouped for a more limited offensive to capture the eastern Donbas, the industrial heartland of the country.

Over the weekend, Russia declared victory over the eastern port city of Mariupol, which had been bombarded by artillery shells for months. Russia had earlier drove Ukrainian civilians and fighters into a steel plant near the city, holding them there until civilians evacuated and the fighters surrendered.

In an interview with NBC on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the fighting in the Donbas was “extremely difficult” but expressed hope they could beat back the invaders.

“The armed forces of Ukraine are restraining this offensive every day and our defenders are repelling these offensive plans of Russia,” Zelensky said. “This is a concrete contribution to the approach of the main day, the coveted day we all look forward to and fight for — Victory Day.”

Tags Donbas Lysychansk Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk. Russia Russian offensive Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky war in ukraine

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