Ukraine says Russia sent thousands of new soldiers into its eastern Donbas region on Tuesday. Regional leaders say they are trying to evacuate civilians and hold on to key cities.
In a video speech Monday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia has been preparing to take over the region “for a long time.”
Zelenskyy continued, saying a large part of the Russian army is centering its efforts on an attack in the region. The Donbas includes two provinces, Luhansk and Donetsk along with the coastal city of Mariupol.
If Russia takes over control of the region, it will connect Russia with the Crimean Peninsula, an area it took in 2014.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed “another stage of this operation is beginning.” Defense minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia’s plan is to “liberate” the provinces in the border area.
In Mariupol, Russian soldiers told the last Ukrainian fighters remaining in the area to give up their fight or be killed.
Zelenskyy, however, said his nation’s soldiers will keep fighting. “We will defend ourselves,” he said.
In addition to the fighting in the east, Ukrainian regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said three missiles hit military targets in the western city of Lviv. Another missile, he said, hit a car repair shop. Lviv is only 60 kilometers from Poland and has not been hit as hard as other parts of Ukraine in the war, which started in late February.
Lviv is an important target as it is one of Ukraine’s main transportation centers. Western nations are sending aid into Ukraine through the city.
In a recent call, Russian president Vladimir Putin said economic restrictions put in place by Western nations have failed.
Putin said “the strategy of economic blitz” has not worked.
Western officials, however, said the restrictions on business with Russia, known as sanctions, have deeply hurt the economy.
United States President Joe Biden spoke with allies Tuesday to discuss what the White House called “continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia accountable” for the war.
Nearly 25 percent of Ukraine’s 44 million residents have been forced from their homes due to the fighting.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by Reuters, AFP, and The Associated Press.
Words in This Story
region – n. a part of a country that is separate from another part of a country in some way
evacuate –v. to remove someone from a dangerous place
coast – n. the land along a sea or ocean
peninsula – n. a piece of land almost entirely surrounded by water
stage – n. a particular point in time, or step in a process
liberate – v. to free a person or a group who is being controlled by someone else
strategy – n. a careful plan or method for achieving something
blitz – v. a fast and powerful effort