Russian forces bombarded Ukrainian troops and towns along the frontlines in eastern Donetsk region on Tuesday in what appeared to be early salvoes of a new offensive as Western allies met in Brussels to plan stepped-up supplies to the Kyiv government.
The Donetsk city of Bakhmut, a principle target for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invading army, was in a precarious position.
“There is not a single square metre in Bakhmut that is safe or that is not in range of enemy fire or drones,” regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukraine’s national broadcaster.He said Russian artillery was hitting targets all along the frontlines in Donetsk, which along with Luhansk region makes up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland and a main objective for the Russians.
With the first anniversary of the invasion approaching, the Kremlin has intensified operations across a broad area of southern and eastern Ukraine and a big new offensive has been widely anticipated.Before a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Western countries needed to boost ammunition supplies to Kyiv.
“We see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. What we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, for new offensives and new attacks,” he told reporters.
Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday its forces had repelled attacks in five settlements in Luhansk and six in Donetsk, including in Bakhmut, over the past 24 hours.