UKRAINE,RUSSIA: Ukraine said Russia had started an anticipated new offensive in the east of the country, with explosions reported all along the front lines as well as attacks in other regions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had begun the “Battle of Donbas” in the east on Monday and a “very large part of the entire Russian Army is now focused on this offensive”.
“No matter how many Russian troops they send there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves,” he vowed in a video address.
Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, called it “the second phase of the war” and assured Ukrainians their forces could hold off the offensive. “Believe in our army, it is very strong,” he said.
Ukrainian media reported a series of explosions, some powerful, along the front line in the Donetsk region, with shelling taking place in Marinka, Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. Ukrainian local officials and local media also said explosions were heard in Kharkiv in the northeast of Ukraine, Mykolaiv in the south and Zaporizhzhia in the southeast.
Ukraine’s top security official, Oleksiy Danilov, said Russian forces attempted to break through Ukrainian defences “along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions” on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, the first shipments of a new US military aid package have arrived at Ukraine’s borders to be handed over in its fight against the Russian invasion, a senior Pentagon official said Monday (April 18).
The United States on April 13 unveiled a US$800 million (S$1.09 billion) tranche of equipment for Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armoured personnel carriers.
Meanwhile, United Nations Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths announced on Monday that he will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey this week to push for the creation of a “humanitarian contact group” involving Ukraine and Russia.
Such a group would “meet convened by the UN to discuss on a virtual or actual basis at any time to discuss humanitarian issues”,Griffiths told reporters in New York.
That could include ceasefire monitoring, safe passage, humanitarian corridors or other issues between the two warring sides, he said.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Western countries had scored an own goal by imposing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine which he said had led to a “deterioration of the economy in the West”.
Speaking on the state of Russia’s domestic economy, Putin said that inflation was stabilising and that retail demand in the country had normalised.
Western countries have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia’s corporate and financial system since it sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a “special military operation”. – THE TELEGRAPH INDIA,THE STRAITS TIMES, NDTV