Amid the Siege of Mariupol and the sinking of the Moskva, battered and bruised Russian forces finished repositioning themselves for an offensive along a 300-mile front for control of Ukraine’s vast natural resources.
Late last night, they struck with a thunderous artillery barrage to announce their new campaign.
Already, some Ukrainians are calling the fight for the country’s industrial heartland, known as the Donbas, a decisive battle that will decide their fate.
In an address to his nation reminiscent of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Volodymyr Zelensky defiantly said, “We will defend ourselves. We will fight. We will not give away anything Ukrainian.”
NBC News reports:
The full-scale assault on Ukraine’s east came as the last fighters in Mariupol, the besieged port city that is crucial to Moscow’s goals, continued to hold out despite a new Russian deadline to surrender.
It also followed Russian strikes across the country, hitting supply lines and military infrastructure and killing at least seven people in the western city of Lviv.
The fighting in Maripoul continues today with Russians using bunker-busting bombs against the last pockets of Ukrainian resistance while the mayor claims 20,000 people lay decaying underneath the rubble-strewn streets.
New explosions have been heard in the Donetsk region and in the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia, while air raid sirens could be heard wailing in populated areas near the front line, the news agency also reported, citing officials and local media.
The new operation comes after fierce Ukrainian resistance, an influx of NATO weapons and chronic supply problems dissuaded Russia from laying siege to Kiyv.
NATO reported Russia had suffered 40,000 military casualties (soldiers killed, wounded and missing in action) as of March 23.