Russia is preparing for the next step of its military action in Ukraine after Moscow announced its forces would step up military operations in “all operational areas,” according to a Ukrainian official.
Russian activity signal that “undoubtedly, preparations for the next stage of offensive actions are underway,” Vadym Skibitskyi, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence said on Saturday.
“It is not only missile strikes from the air and sea,” added Skibitskyi. “We can see shelling along the entire line of contact, along the entire front line. There is an active use of tactical aviation and attack helicopters."
The Ukrainian military said Russia appeared to be regrouping units for an attack towards Sloviansk, located to the southwest of Lysychansk.
Ukraine accuses Russia of using rockets and missiles to target urban areas in the past three days during which 40 people have been killed.
Ukrainian regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko claims that in Russia’s attack on the southern city of Nikopol on the Dnipro River, 50 Russian Grad rockets pounded the city, killing two people.
Also, Moscow has hit the northeastern town of Chuhuiv in Kharkiv region with rockets, killing three people and wounding three others, according to regional Governor Oleh Synehubov.
Russia denies targeting civilians. Moscow accuses Kiev of shelling its own people in eastern territories it has lost control over.
While the focus of the war, now in its fifth month, has moved to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas, Russian forces have been striking cities elsewhere in the country with missiles and rockets.
As the conflict continues to rage across various parts of Ukraine, Russia’s defense minister Sergey Shoigu in his surprised visit ordered military units to intensify operations to prevent Ukrainian strikes on eastern Ukraine and other areas held by Russia, according to a statement from the ministry.
“The Russian defense ministry gave the necessary instructions to ramp up the actions of groups in all operational areas in order to exclude the possibility of the Kiev regime launching massive rocket and artillery strikes on civilian infrastructure and residents of settlements across Donbas and other regions,” said the statement.
Ukraine has been the subject of the Russian military operation since February 24, with Moscow saying that the operation is aimed at “demilitarizing” the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas.
The military operation has led to a deeper feud between Russia and the West, with the United States and its allies slapping unprecedented sanctions on Moscow and flooding Ukraine with advanced weapons.
Russia has said the Western flood of weapons into Ukraine and the sanctions would prolong the ongoing war.
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