Russia ‘continues to refit units’ as more battlegroups arrive, second offensive in Ukraine yet to begin

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A senior defense official warned on Tuesday that Russia was “still refitting units” and tactical groups continued to enter the country as Moscow sought to target eastern Ukraine.

“They are still in the process of refitting units outside Ukraine to insert them in Ukraine. They have added, in the last 24 hours, two more battalion tactical groups in the country,” said the top defense official to reporters, noting that there were now 78 operational tactical battalions. groups in Ukraine.

Ukrainian servicemen climb atop an armored fighting vehicle on Tuesday as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues at an undisclosed location in eastern Ukraine.
(Ukrainian Land Forces Press Service/Handout via REUTERS)

RUSSIA LAUNCHES LARGE-SCALE OFFENSIVE IN EASTERN UKRAINE, DECLARES ‘ANOTHER STAGE’ OF WAR HAS BEGUN

Defense officials estimated Russia had retained about 75% of its original combat strength from when it first massed along Ukraine’s borders before the invasion.

Security officials have warned that after failing to take the capital kyiv, Moscow will launch a “major offensive” in the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk – also known as Donbass – where Russian-backed separatist forces have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Tuesday that Moscow had started its second campaign in eastern Ukraine and said it would be a “very important moment in this whole special operation”.

But a senior US defense official warned the full campaign has yet to kick off.

“I would say that we have seen limited offensive operations starting southwest of Donetsk and south of Izyum. We believe that these offensives are preludes to larger offensive operations that the Russians are planning to carry out,” said the responsible to journalists.

The senior defense official said the United States believed Russia would try to join forces north and south through Mariupol and down from the Kharkiv region.

Smoke rises above the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from recent drone video posted on social media.
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Smoke rises above the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from recent drone video posted on social media.
(MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.)

RUSSIA SAYS EVACUATION CORRIDORS ARE OPEN FOR MARIUPOL BUT UKRAINE SAYS 4 PEOPLE KILLED TRYING TO FLEASE

Despite weeks of heavy shelling and attempts to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol, US security officials believe the city is still contested.

A steel mill in Mariupol has become a central part of the siege as Ukrainian forces and civilians continue to rely on a deep network of tunnels to escape Russian bombardment.

It is believed that more than 120,000 residents are still stranded in the city after Russian forces cut off evacuation points.

An armed serviceman from the Donetsk People's Republic militia walks past a building damaged during fighting in Mariupol on Wednesday.

An armed serviceman from the Donetsk People’s Republic militia walks past a building damaged during fighting in Mariupol on Wednesday.
(AP/Alexei Alexandrov)

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The mayor of Mariupol has estimated that more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting since the invasion began and US defense officials have warned that the brutality of the war is set to escalate as Russia concentrates all its efforts over an area the size of West Virginia.

The Biden administration has provided Ukraine with $2.6 billion in defensive aid and the United States is expected to provide seven more military aid flights to Ukraine in the next 24 hours.

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