WASHINGTON (AFP) – Russian forces are reinforcing across the Donbas, notably close to the city of Izyum, but haven’t but launched an offensive to grab management of the disputed area of jap Ukraine, Pentagon officers mentioned on Monday (April 11).
“They’re repositioning, they’re refocusing on the Donbas,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby instructed reporters.
Kirby mentioned a convoy of automobiles had been noticed heading for Izyum but “it’s not clear to us how many vehicles are in this convoy and what exactly they’re bringing”.
“It does seem to be a mix of personnel-carrying vehicles as well as armoured vehicles and maybe some artillery,” he mentioned.
The Pentagon spokesman underscored that the Ukrainian army has been preventing Moscow-backed separatists within the Donbas area since 2014.
“The Ukrainians have been for eight years – and still are – fighting over that,” he mentioned. “And they show no signs of being willing to give that territory up.”
A senior US defence official mentioned earlier on Monday that the United States doesn’t consider a “new offensive” within the Donbas area has begun but.
“We still assess that while there is fighting going on they (the Russians) are working to reinforce their capabilities and to add to it,” the official mentioned.
The official additionally confirmed that Russian basic Alexander Dvornikov, a veteran of Russia’s army intervention in Syria, had been named the general commander of Russian forces in Ukraine.
“Our assessment is that the Russians have in fact appointed him to be the overall commander,” the official mentioned.
“But it remains to be seen, given the significant logistics and sustainment challenges, the operational manoeuvre challenges, the integration of fires challenges, the morale, the leadership, it certainly remains to be seen what sort of an effect he’s going to be able to have,” the official mentioned.
Pentagon spokesman Kirby mentioned he was unable to verify a declare by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that “tens of thousands” of individuals might have been killed within the southern metropolis of Mariupol.
“I don’t think anybody’s really going to know until Ukrainian authorities are able to get in there and look and see,” he mentioned. “It’s still being fought over.”
“But if you just look at the imagery, and you see how much the Russians have pounded Mariupol from the air, it’s inconceivable to imagine that there aren’t going to be civilian casualties, and that it could be a significant number,” he mentioned.