Ukrainian forces have mobilized troops near the Russian town of Iziuma, a regional governor said on Saturday. This could prove a serious setback in Moscow’s efforts to capture the entire Donbass region.
Russian forces have largely focused on Donbass in what the Kremlin calls the “second phase” of the invasion.
This was announced last month after Moscow’s failure to capture the capital kyiv in the first weeks of the war.
Ukraine regained territory in the northeast and drove Russian forces out of the city of Kharkiv.
kyiv’s offensive against Iziuma is also likely to put more pressure on Moscow’s supply lines.
As a result, it is likely to make it more difficult for Russian forces to surround Ukrainian forces on the eastern Donbass front.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces attacked a series of military sites, including in the Donbass, killing at least 100 Ukrainian “nationalists”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in Donbass remained difficult in a late night video address.
He said: “On the 80th day of a full-scale invasion, it seems particularly crazy, but they don’t stop their efforts.”
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As a sign of solidarity, a delegation of American Republican senators paid an unannounced visit to kyiv.
According to Zelensky, they discussed strengthening sanctions against Russia.
Western analysts now say that Vladimir Putin did not anticipate the fierce Ukrainian resistance – and the forceful global response – when he ordered the February 24 invasion.
Russia suffered significant losses in terms of men and military equipment.
He has also been the target of significant economic sanctions.