Russia begins large-scale military action to seize eastern Ukraine

seize eastern Ukraine

Russia has begun its large-scale military action to seize the east of Ukraine, the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

“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,” he said in a video address late on Monday night. Zelenskiy said a “significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive”.

He added: “No matter how many soldiers are driven there, we will defend ourselves. We will fight. We will not give up anything Ukrainian.”

The president’s comments follow a dramatic escalation of attacks by Russia ahead of the long-anticipated operation. Vladimir Putin has declared his intention to seize Donbas, the industrial heartland in the east of the country already partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Zelenskiy made clear that the Ukrainian army would battle any attempted advance by Moscow. “No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight,” he said. “We will defend ourselves. We will do it every day.”

US president Joe Biden will on Tuesday hold a call with allies to discuss the Ukraine crisis, including on how to coordinate on holding Russia accountable, the White House said.

Earlier on Monday Russia unleashed a barrage of long-range missiles across Ukraine, in what analysts described as a “softening up” exercise before its military push.

Shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region also killed four people, said the regional governor, Pavlo Kirilenko.

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