KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces are keeping Ukrainian troops tied down with attacks in the eastern Donbas region as Moscow assembles additional combat power there for an expected offensive in the coming weeks, Ukrainian officials said Monday.
Intense fighting that has been raging for weeks continued around the city of Bakhmut and the nearby towns of Soledar and Vuhledar, Ukraine’s presidential office said.
They are located in the Donetsk region, which with neighboring Luhansk region makes up the Donbas, an industrial area bordering Russia.
“The battles for the region are heating up,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks, adding that “the Russians are throwing new units into the battle and eradicating our towns and villages.”
In Luhansk, Gov. Serhii Haidai said shelling there had subsided because “the Russians have been saving ammunition for a large-scale offensive.”
Military analysts say the Kremlin’s forces may be probing Ukrainian defenses for weak points or could be making a feint while preparing for a main thrust through southern Ukraine.
David Arakhamia, who leads Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party in parliament, said Sunday that Ukraine is preparing for a Russian offensive while planning to counterattack and reclaim its occupied territory.
Arakhamia, noting that “time and circumstances call for strengthening and regrouping,” also announced that Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be moved to another government post and replaced by the head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov. But Arakhamia abruptly changed course Monday and said that no shakeup will happen this week.
Mariana Bezuhla, a Servant of the People party lawmaker, said officials decided to postpone the reshuffle following the analysis of “risks for the system as a whole” ahead of next week’s meeting with NATO allies.
One of Reznikov’s deputies recently lost his job amid Zelenskyy’s crackdown on corruption. Reznikov said over the weekend that he was ready to step down if Zelenskyy decides it is best.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is hungry for some battlefield success, especially securing illegally annexed territory in eastern Ukraine, to mark the anniversary of his invasion on February 24.
- We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
- Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
- We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
- Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
- Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: email@example.com.
- If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.