Ukraine launches counterattacks to scupper Russia’s attacks as ‘battle of Donbas’ begins

Ukraine: Battle of Donbas is 'very important' says Zelensky

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Ukrainian forces have retaken at least three towns to the east of the country in a move that will impact Russia’s ability to send new equipment to troops. The liberation of the towns near Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, has been labelled a minor victory after they were marked as strategic points in cutting off supplies to Russian troops.

Russian troops have pulled away from certain areas in Ukraine such as Kyiv in order to bolster forces on the eastern flank. 

It is expected that Russia will begin a renewed attack on Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region with a view to re-capturing the areas. 

However, Ukraine’s latest move could deal a blow to this plan as one of the liberated towns, Bazaliyaka, is on a key supply road used by Russia to re-equip their forces. 

The Ukrainian forces also recaptured Lebyazhe and Kutuzivka from Russian troops.

On Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Russia had begun its offensive push along Ukraine’s eastern border. 

In a video address, the Ukrainian President said: “We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared.”

Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary said: “They (Russian forces) began their attempt to start the active phase this morning. 

“This morning, along almost the entire front line of the (eastern) Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defences.”

After suffering losses in the capital, Russian forces have returned to their initial strategy of attacking the Donbas region and bolstering forces for this battle which could draw out the conflict. 

In the event of Russia winning Donbas, it would show Russian victory and the option would then be for President Putin to annex the region as he did with Crimea.

Russia’s new strategy means that the offensive will come from the north, south and east as fierce fighting has already begun five miles away from the northern edge of the Donbas region.

The city of Izyum has been bombed day and night and has without running water and electricity for weeks.

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Bodies are scattered in the streets and many residents have decided to flee.

Sviatohirsk is located in Donbas just south of Izyum and the town’s mayor Vladimir told the BBC that “everyone is worried”.

Many residents have fled the town amid the sound of shelling intensifying as the Russian troops close in.

Despite their advances now, the natural layout of the town may prove tricky for the Russians to manoeuvre as the hills and forests provide natural defences and will be tricky for tanks and artillery to navigate.

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