Russia launches battle for the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine
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In recent weeks, Russia’s military campaign has refocused on the eastern region of Donbas, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014. Donbas is also home to much of Ukraine’s industrial wealth, including coal and steel.
Experts polled by TASS yesterday say Russia is interested in the quickest completion of its special operation in Ukraine but only after the whole of Donbass is liberated and Moscow and Kiev will step up their talks after that.
“Russia is interested in implementing the tasks that have been set and that is why the military operation will continue in the coming weeks. Russia will seek to inflict maximum military defeat on Ukraine in Donbass, following which the sides, I believe, will return to the negotiating process," Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the Higher School of Economics National Research University, expert of the Valdai International Discussion Club Dmitry Suslov told TASS.
The United States and some European countries want to make the conflict in Ukraine drag on as long as possible and do not even conceal that, Suslov said. As the expert pointed out, the West "will try to maximally obstruct and slow Russia’s military victory in Donbass."
According to TASS, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov believes that this is just one of possible scenarios and the sides can still achieve a breakthrough at the talks.
Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Telegram late Monday, “We can now confirm that Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, which they have been preparing for a long time.”
The Donbas is Ukraine's mostly Russian-speaking industrial heartland in the east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for the past eight years and have declared two independent republics that have been recognized by Russia.
In the south of Donbas, Russia continued its push to capture the besieged port city of Mariupol.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities say Russian missiles have destroyed major consignments of weapons arriving in Ukraine from the United States and the European Union.
"The logistics center and large consignments of foreign weapons that arrived in Ukraine over the past six days from the US and European countries were destroyed," Igor Konashenkov, a chief spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, reported on Monday.