Russian troops amass for Ukraine push

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte talk Friday near apartment houses that were damaged in Russian missile attacks in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
(AP/Ukrainian Presidential Press Office)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte talk Friday near apartment houses that were damaged in Russian missile attacks in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (AP/Ukrainian Presidential Press Office)


KYIV, Ukraine -- Russia is accumulating large forces around Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine as it seeks to make a breakthrough in the Donetsk region, a Ukrainian official said Friday.

Illia Yevlash, spokesperson for the operational group overseeing the eastern front line, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Russian forces were concentrating efforts to make a powerful push on the key strategic city to the west of Bakhmut, which fell to Moscow last May, hoping to advance toward Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Ukrainian forces battling Russian efforts to advance in the Bakhmut region say they have been experiencing a large Russian push over the last three weeks and are facing constant attacks as Moscow troops send in wave after wave of infantry and target them with a variety of artillery and drones.

With the full-scale war now into its third year, Russian forces have been bludgeoning some Ukrainian defensive positions into submission, deploying overwhelming amounts of artillery and troop numbers in an effort to punch through defensive lines at targeted points.

Though Russia's gains have been small, slow and costly, Ukraine doesn't have enough reservists and has a severe shortage of artillery shells as the supply of military aid from Western partners has waned.

During a visit to Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv region on Friday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a bilateral security agreement that included $2.16 billion in military aid from the Netherlands this year and further defense assistance over the next 10 years.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Zelenskyy said the deal prioritized "the provision of air defense, artillery, sea and long-range capabilities, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Ukraine's air force."

A spokesperson for the 17th separate tank brigade told The Associated Press that despite limited resources, Ukrainian forces were trying their best to adjust their defense to the ever-changing Russian tactics, even as troops on the ground reported that they could not respond with the same firepower and personnel as Russia is able to use against them.

The commander of the tank company working in the Bakhmut region said, "You can really feel it, the density of fire is higher."

"When we can make 10 shots, they can make 50, they have an advantage over us in ammunition, it's undeniable. And also, there is an advantage in manpower," said Dmytro, 28, who only gave his first name because of security concerns. Earlier last month, Russia took the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka by overwhelming Ukrainian forces with large numbers of troops and superior air and artillery firepower.

Russia's tactics in that battle, including its use of drones and dozens of aerial bombs to obliterate Ukrainian positions in the city, have raised concerns that it could replicate the same methods elsewhere along the front line if Western aid to support air-defense systems and supplies of long-range weapons and artillery does not come through soon.

Last August, Washington authorized allies to give F-16 warplanes to Ukraine. The Netherlands and Denmark announced they would supply the fighter jets to Kyiv but the timeline on delivery depended on how soon Ukrainian crews and infrastructure could be readied.


  photo  A Ukrainian soldier points toward the Russian position on the front line in the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine on Friday. A Ukrainian official said Friday that Russia is amassing large forces around Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine as it looks to make a breakthrough in the Donetsk region. (AP/Andriy Andriyenko)
 
 


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