Russia's forces complete withdrawal from Kyiv area, Ukraine prepares for Russian assault in Donbas

Ukraine braced for a climactic battle for control of the besieged country’s industrial east after Russian forces withdrew from the shattered outskirts of Kyiv to regroup and intensify their offensive across the Donbas region, where authorities urged people to evacuate before time runs out

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, April 07, 2022, 12:02 PM IST
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A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 | AP

Russian forces have completely withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv, the Pentagon has said, as Ukraine's deputy Prime Minister urged residents of the eastern regions of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk to evacuate as fears grow that Russia will intensify attacks there.

Ukraine braced for a climactic battle for control of the besieged country’s industrial east after Russian forces withdrew from the shattered outskirts of Kyiv to regroup and intensify their offensive across the Donbas region, where authorities urged people to evacuate before time runs out.

Ukrainian officials are appealing to people in the area to "take this opportunity" to flee "while it is safe." Russian troops are "regrouping and conducting reconnaissance" for an offensive in Donbas - which is made up of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The US says that Russia's withdrawal from the regions outside Kyiv and Chernihiv is now complete, as the war shifts focus to eastern Ukraine.

Russia troops "are regrouping and conducting reconnaissance" for an offensive in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in an update on 42nd day of fighting.

The update said that the main efforts of Russian troops is to "break through the defences" of Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk region, and that they are also trying to take full control of the city of Mariupol.

Russian forces continue to shell Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine and are using railway lines to quickly move military cargo. Weapons and other equipment arrived at the Kupyansk railway station in northeastern Ukraine from Valuyki station in Belgorod, Russia, according to Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces also claimed to have retaken Osokorivka near Kherson in the south of Ukraine from Russian troops.

These reports could not be independently verified.

Russia is redeploying more of its forces from northern to eastern Ukraine. The objective is to step up the battle in the Luhansk and Donetsk - parts of which were already controlled by Russian backed separatists. Russia will take advantage of its shorter supply lines - something which proved a problem in its failed offensive on the capital Kiev.

In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that the Russian military is building up its forces for a new offensive in the east, where the Kremlin has said its goal is to “liberate” the Donbas, Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial heartland. Ukraine, too, was preparing for battle, he said.

“We will fight and we will not retreat,” he said. “We will seek all possible options to defend ourselves until Russia begins to seriously seek peace. This is our land. This is our future. And we won’t give them up.”

Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists in the Donbas since 2014. Ahead of its Feb. 24 invasion, Moscow recognized the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent states.

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