Ukraine and NATO warn of a resurgence of the Russian offensive in the East | International

Ukraine is preparing for a resurgence of the conflict on the eastern front. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine warned on Tuesday that the movement of Russian troops detected portends a new offensive by the invader to dominate the eastern provinces of the country. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the Russian military regrouping anticipates an attempt to conquer the separatist region of Donbas “in the coming weeks” to advance towards the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian General Staff identified an increase in the activity of the Russian artillery in the East and in the South, where 10 people died in the city of Mikolaiv in an attack with cluster bombs, according to the mayor, Oleksandr Senkevich. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, denounced in March that her office had received evidence of the use of this type of weapon against the civilian population in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian General Staff reported that in the eastern scenario the invading forces had taken control of the town of Brazhkivka and that they had failed in the attempt to occupy two other municipalities. The most important is Sloviansk, a city of 110,000 inhabitants in the Donetsk province that would be key for Russia if it wants to have an axis of attack between Donbas and the city of Kharkov. The hammering of the artillery is constant over Kharkiv, further north, although Ukraine’s military leadership stresses that the Russian priority is to occupy “completely” the provinces of Donbas: Donetsk and Lugansk.

The movement of infantry and supplies to the eastern border between Russia and Ukraine has been confirmed since the Russian Defense Ministry announced on March 25 that it was stopping the assault on kyiv to concentrate its efforts on Donbas. Now, as revealed by the Ukrainian General Staff, a massive transfer of the Russian air force that operated from Belarus to Russian territory bordering eastern Ukraine is added. For NATO, the objective of Russian President Vladimir Putin is clear: to connect Donbas by land with Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula annexed in 2014 by Russia through a referendum not recognized by the international community.

The summary executions on the outskirts of kyiv have shaken consciences throughout the world and have angered the spirits of the Ukrainians, especially those who feel close to the encouragement of the Russian troops. Ukrinform, the Ukrainian national news agency, reported that the Russian army had suspended the internet connection of Berdyansk, an occupied municipality on the Black Sea coast, sparking fears of an attempt to prevent further potential war crimes from leaking out. . Ukrinform also detailed diplomatic efforts by the Turkish government to evacuate civilians and wounded from neighboring Mariupol, the city most devastated by Russian aggression, from Berdiansk.

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Silence and empty streets in Odessa

The effervescence in the streets of Lviv —the main city in western Ukraine, the safest area in the country and a refuge for 300,000 displaced people— or the slow resurgence of bombed municipalities near kyiv such as Yitomir contrasts with the emptiness in the streets and the weight of silence in Odessa. Life in the main Black Sea port city is slowly recovering, but fears of an enemy offensive are strong.

Mikhail Gorbatov is a lawyer from Odessa who was unable to accompany his wife and daughters to Poland. Men under 60 years of age cannot leave the country due to legal imperative, due to the possibility that they will be mobilized. “A few weeks ago there were very few restaurants open in the center, now there are maybe 30 in operation,” he says as he drinks a cup of coffee in one of them. “People have more confidence, they know that a maritime invasion is unfeasible because it would be suicide for them; we are afraid above all of what may happen in Mikolaiv”.

The center of Odessa, full of anti-tank hedgehogs, on Tuesday.
The center of Odessa, full of anti-tank hedgehogs, on Tuesday.Albert Garcia (THE COUNTRY)

Mikolaiv, a city near Odessa, is periodically bombed by the invader. From there, the Ukrainian counteroffensive could take place to regain control of Kherson, one of the few cities of strategic importance taken by Russia in the war. Kherson is 50 kilometers from Mikolaiv, which is the gateway to Odessa from the mouth of the Dnieper River.

NATO foreign ministers will hold a summit this Wednesday and Thursday to analyze the war situation in Ukraine and also confront China’s power in Southeast Asia. Stoltenberg focused on the idea that Putin’s war “is in a crucial phase” and stressed that it is necessary to increase arms support for the government of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Military experts on both sides of the Atlantic agree that controlling the Donbas region is the most feasible way out for the Kremlin in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance. Michel Goya, military historian and retired French colonel, is one of the most active and recognized experts in the analysis of war. In his bulletin on Tuesday, posted on his website, he stated that the battle over Sloviansk will be especially tough and that the future of the war depends on whether the invader manages to take Donbas. Goya’s bet is that Putin wants to arrive with this booty on May 9, the day on which Russia commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler’s Germany in 1945. For the Kremlin’s propaganda, the attack on Ukraine is an operation against a supposed Nazi government that wants to annihilate the Russian-rooted population in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainians get used to the idea that the war will not end any time soon. This was exposed by a survey published on Tuesday by the newspaper Pravda. The poll indicates that 70% of Ukrainians believe that the war will last for months. The main conclusion of the survey is the evolution of the public’s mood: if on March 1, 55% trusted in the victory over Russia, now the percentage would skyrocket to 95%. The study did not specify what the respondents understood as victory.

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