In the days since Moscow announced an operational pause in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces have nonetheless carried out missile strikes across the front lines, killing dozens as they seek to regroup and avoid ceding captured territory.

During the weekend alone, Ukrainian authorities reported about three dozen airstrikes, and one regional governor said Russia was raising “true hell” in the country’s east.

“In the past week, many talked about the alleged ‘operational pause’ in the actions of the occupiers in Donbas and other parts of Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Sunday evening address. “Thirty-four airstrikes by Russian aircraft over the past day is an answer to all those who came up with this ‘pause.’”

Analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War predicted the tactical adjustment last week, and Russia’s Defense Ministry appeared to confirm the assessment when it said troops were “taking measures to recover their combat capabilities.” However, the analysts cautioned, such a regrouping does not mean fighting will temporarily cease. On the contrary, they noted, Russia probably will carry out “limited offensive operations” to disguise its reorganization.

“Russian campaign design, inadequate as it has generally been, is nevertheless good enough to manifest this basic principle of operational art,” the institute reported.

Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have incorporated such assessments into their rhetorical rallying cries, arguing that there has been no pause, but increased aid could win one.

“The Ukrainian army is holding on firmly, repelling attacks in various directions,” he said. “But, of course, a lot still needs to be done so that Russian losses really cause such pause.”



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