Russia Launches New Assault on Three Donetsk Cities in Ukraine – Russia began new assaults on three key cities in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk this weekend, suggesting that the Kremlin believes its military is now in a position to build on its successes in Luhansk and attempt to take full control of the Donbas.
The cities of Avdiivka, Sloviansk, and Bakhmut, which have been in the Russian military’s sights since the early days of the war, were hit by missile strikes and shelling attacks on Saturday.
In a Facebook post, the Ukrainian General Staff describes an “offensive operation” in Donetsk that sees troops concentrating their efforts on Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
“It uses ground attack and army aviation,” the post reads.
War for Ukraine’s Donbas: What We Know
Writing on Telegram, Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko revealed how five civilians were killed in a Russian shelling in the region and an additional 14 injured. The Ukrainian official also confirmed on Saturday that two people were killed in Poprosny, one in Soledar, another in Pervomaiskiy, and one more in Avdiivka.
Officials also said that three civilians were killed in a residential area in Nikopol, a city close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant where Russian soldiers are storing ammunition. Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk, said that Soviet-era Grad rockets were used to strike the Nikopol area after midnight.
The Kyiv Independent reported that the Russian offensive was repelled in all cities and that despite the heavy shelling, troops failed to break through Ukrainian defense lines.
The last time Sloviansk was hit by Russian strikes was July 30 – only a matter of days ago – prompting Ukrainian forces to work to fortify defenses around the city and prevent Russian troops from making the kind of advances seen in neighboring Luhansk Oblast over the last month.
Ukraine Prepared for Fight In Sloviansk
Speaking to The Associated Press on Friday, Col. Yurii Bereza, the head of the volunteer national guard regiment, predicted the next strike would come very soon.
“I think it won’t be calm for long,” he said less than a day before the strike arrived. “Eventually, there will be an assault.”
Ukraine has long expected assaults in these key cities in Donetsk. Sloviansk, in particular, is an important target for Kremlin as it was the first region to be captured by Ukrainian separatists in 2014. It was later recaptured by Ukrainian forces, but Moscow would like to see the region under Russian control as a symbolic victory. It would also be a big step towards capturing the entire Donbas region, which remains the stated aim of the Russian military and the Kremlin.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.