Russian forces continued moving toward eastern Ukraine ahead of a major planned offensive in the Donbas region, while conditions in Mariupol remained dire, with thousands of civilians reported dead and Russian forces inching toward full control of the port city.

Ukrainian commanders and Western officials say Russia has continued to shift its forces from areas north of Kyiv, and from Belarus, toward Kharkiv and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where fighting has been ongoing since 2014.

Officials expect Russia to mount a new offensive possibly with the goal of taking the remaining territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that are still controlled by Ukrainian government forces.

The death toll from the conflict, which erupted when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, remains unclear.

Ukrainian commanders said on April 12 that 19,500 Russian troops had been killed to date. The most recent official Russian Defense Ministry tally, in late March, was about 1,370.

Residents of the besieged port of Mariupol carry their belongings through the city's ruined streets on April 10.
Residents of the besieged port of Mariupol carry their belongings through the city’s ruined streets on April 10.

U.S. officials say publicly that Russia has lost at least 10,000 troops, and privately, U.S. and Western officials put the figure closer to the Ukrainian estimate — which would mean Russia has lost more troops in Ukraine than it did in the 10 years of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

Ukraine has not released its own casualty figures, saying it is a state secret, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said publicly in mid-March that about 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed.

A U.S. Defense Department official said on April 11 that Russian forces were reinforcing around the Donbas region, including near the town of Izyum, which reportedly fell to Russian troops last week.

A Russian convoy including command and control vehicles, and infantry and helicopter support units, was seen heading for Izyum, the official said.

The official also said more than 60 Russian battalion tactical groups – each numbering between 800 and 1,000 troops – were believed to have deployed from Kherson in south central Ukraine, to the northeast through the Donbas, up to the Russian border.

Russia has also appointed a new general to take unified command of the Donbas offensive, a move Western officials said appeared to be aimed at resolving the confusion and missteps that plagued Russian forces in the first phase of the war.