Russia is moving thousands of troops and armored vehicles into position for a large-scale assault on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. As a result, civilians are fleeing westward for their lives in the opposite direction.

A satellite image shows armored vehicles and trucks at the southern end of a military convoy moving southward, east of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on April 8, 2022. Image Source: Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters

Ukrainian President Zelensky has warned his people that an attack by Russian army units in the east is coming, but he added that his troops are ready.

He stated in a televised speech late Sunday:

“Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state. They can use even more missiles against us, even more air bombs.  But we are preparing for their actions. We will respond. We will be even more active in providing Ukraine with weapons. We will be more active in the international arena. We will be even more active in the information field.”

The man is clearly not backing down or making concessions to Moscow.

In recent weeks Russian troops have retreated from the northern regions of Ukraine and are now resting, reorganizing, and resupplying in areas of Belarus and Russia. However, some observers in the region state it could take weeks for those troops to be redeployed for an attack on the east.

In an intelligence update on April 8, the UK Ministry of Defense said of the retrograde action:

“At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas. Many of these forces will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy further east with any mass redeployment from the north likely to take at least a week minimum.”

President Zelensky isn’t counting on having the luxury of time. Instead, he is preparing for a renewed Russian attack in the east within days.

Ukrainian troops stand ready to fight. Image credit: atlanticcouncil.org
Ukrainian troops stand ready to fight. Image credit: atlanticcouncil.org

There seems to be a consensus on this. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, in an April 5th press conference, stated:

“In the coming weeks, we expect a further Russian push in eastern and southern Ukraine to try to take the entire Donbas and to create a land bridge to occupied Crimea.”

Stoltenberg added, “This will be a crucial phase of the war.” 

A Ukrainian BM-21 "Grad" shells Russian troops' position, near Lugansk, in the Donbas region of Ukraine, on April 10, 2022. Image credit: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP
A Ukrainian BM-21 “Grad” shells Russian troops’ position, near Lugansk, in the Donbas region of Ukraine, on April 10, 2022. Image credit: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP

President Zelensky was interviewed by the Associated Press last Saturday and told them that his nation maintains a strong position in the east because it maintains control of the city of Mariupol, despite the Russians having killed thousands of residents and reducing most of the buildings there to rubble.

If Russian forces had captured the port city, it would give them a secure coastal corridor to Crimea.

Zelensky told the AP:

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“Mariupol is the heart of this war today. The stronger our position in Mariupol, the stronger our position in the east of the country.”

In his Sunday night address to the nation, Zelensky said that the coming week would be no less important than the previous ones.

He stated:

“It will be just as tense and even more responsible. Russia will be even more afraid. Afraid to lose. I will continue to address the parliaments and nations of the world. We will meet our partners, leaders of other states in Kyiv, and other Ukrainian cities. We will attract even more funds and resources to help Ukraine.”

President Zelensky has on several occasions thanked journalists for sharing the truth of what is unfolding in his country. SOFREP will continue to do its part in bringing you the latest fair, impartial and truthful updates on the ongoing conflict.

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