A Ukrainian serviceman stand next to a Javelin anti-tank missile, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, at a position in Donetsk Region, Ukraine April 18, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko/File Photo
LVIV/KYIV, April 19 (Reuters) – Russia launched its long-awaited all-out assault on east Ukraine on Tuesday, unleashing thousands of troops in what Ukraine described as the Battle of the Donbas, a campaign to seize two provinces and salvage a battlefield victory.
Ukrainian officials insisted their troops would withstand the new assault, which they said began overnight with massive Russian artillery and rocket barrages and attempts to advance across almost the entire stretch of the eastern front.
Moscow gave few details about its new campaign, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that “another stage of this operation is beginning”. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the aim was to “liberate” Donetsk and Luhansk, provinces which Moscow demands Kyiv cede fully to Russian-backed separatists.
“All who lay down their arms are guaranteed to remain alive,” the defence ministry said. The pro-Kremlin leader of Chechnya, whose forces have been fighting in Mariupol, predicted troops would capture the plant on Tuesday.