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A Ukrainian military official warned Saturday that Russia is continuing to bolster its forces in the eastern Donbas region and is intensifying its offensive measures.
“As of today, we see signs that Russia has been increasing its troops in eastern areas of operations. They are increasing the numbers of their units and they want to take as much Ukrainian territory as possible,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense spokesman Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told reporters. “As of now, their main goal is to get administrative boundaries of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts as well as Kherson oblast.”
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Senior defense officials said this week that the U.S. assesses Russia’s progression as slow and behind schedule.
The Donbas region is roughly the size of West Virginia and Russia has been ramping up a second offensive there for nearly a month.
The Kremlin redirected the majority of its efforts into eastern Ukraine after it failed to take Kyiv – though Moscow has stated its intent to take southern regions along the Black Sea as well.
“Russian troops have been gradually increasing the intensity of their offensive action in eastern Ukraine,” Motuzyanyk said. “In addition, there have been signs of the aggressor preparing for even higher intensification of combat activities.”
The colonel said Russian forces are building out their hospital capabilities both in Ukraine and Russia in preparation for an even more intensive fight ahead.
Motuzyanyk said that additional refrigeration facilities have also been established to preserve fallen Russian soldiers.
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A senior U.S. defense official could not confirm the number of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine but said the Pentagon assesses there are 92 operation battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in the country as a whole.
“We believe they have suffered attrition – they have suffered losses,” the official said. “Not all these BTGs are at 100 percent capability.”
Ukrainian and U.S. officials have noted that Russia is heavily relying on artillery and airstrikes as opposed to ground forces – the majority of which have been targeting Mariupol and areas housing units from Ukraine’s Joint Force Operation.
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Mariupol has been among the hardest hit in Russia’s war in Ukraine, but defense officials said Friday that Russia is largely relying on dummy bombs as opposed to precision-guided missiles which could speak to Moscow’s inability to properly resupply its forces.
Over 1,950 missiles have been levied at Ukrainian targets in the 65 days of the war.