The second phase of Russia’s operation in Ukraine has begun, and many military analysts and experts believe it will focus on eastern Ukraine and an assault on Ukrainian-held portions of the Donbas region.
At the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces in the country immediately stretched themselves thin, deploying all over Ukraine’s southern, eastern and northern regions, even going so far as attempting an offensive on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
While these initial attacks dealt significant damage to Ukrainian military units, the Russian high command knew they had to strategically withdraw from many of the fronts they opened up, especially in Ukraine’s north, in order to reconsolidate their forces.
Now, Russian forces have properly amassed their forces in Russian- and separatist-occupied eastern Ukraine and are launching an offensive to take over the disputed Donbas region, which Russia claims fully belongs to the two separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Another stage of this operation [in eastern Ukraine] is beginning and I am sure this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, April 19.
Even Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have admitted that this long-feared, full-scale ground offensive to occupy all of eastern Ukraine has begun. Officials noted that Russian forces have consistently attacked Ukrainian positions along a broad front over 300 miles long.
“Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” said Zelensky on Tuesday in his nightly broadcast. “A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive.”
“This morning, almost along the whole front line of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts, the occupiers attempted to break through our defenses,” said Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov.
US, NATO rushing to give Ukraine even more military supplies
As the situation becomes increasingly dire for the Ukrainian military, the West, led by the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is rushing to provide Ukraine with more munitions and heavy weapons, particularly long-range artillery systems, tanks, wide-area air-defense systems and combat aircraft. (Related: Has NATO clandestinely sent irregulars into Ukraine? Two Britons beg PM Boris Johnson to seek Ukraine prisoner exchange after being captured by Russians.)
But the U.S. and its allies are just now beginning to respond to Ukrainian requests by providing them with heavier weaponry, as opposed to the earlier policy of only providing lighter weapons, including Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
“If we had obtained in the first week of the war what we are receiving today, it would have been much more useful for Ukraine and the cause of freedom in Europe,” said Zelensky. “And if we obtain now what some of our partners plan to transfer to Ukraine in coming weeks, it would help save the lives of thousands and thousands of people.”
Brandon said Wednesday, April 20, that it is already working to provide Ukraine with even more military supplies. He is even considering getting another $800 million in taxpayer money for military aid to Ukraine. This would be on top of the over $2.6 billion in taxpayer money the administration has already allocated for military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
“Weapons and ammunition are flowing in daily,” said Brandon during a meeting with defense officials at the White House.
Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby said between eight to 10 planes filled with weapons and ammunition for Ukraine are landing daily at sites all over Europe, from where the equipment gets taken into Ukraine by road.
One shipment, which for the first time includes heavy artillery, is set to be in Ukraine within days. This shipment includes 18 155 mm western-standard howitzers and 40,000 rounds of ammunition for the artillery pieces.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also promised to send heavy artillery. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would supply Ukraine with anti-tank and air defense weapons and long-range artillery systems.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. will also send artillery to Ukraine. “This will become an artillery conflict, they need support with more artillery, that is what we will be giving them,” he said.
Watch this episode of “Russia Truth” as host Brian Berletic talks about the Russian operation to occupy all of the Donbas region.
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