Kyiv, Ukraine — Russia assaulted cities and towns along a boomerang-shaped front hundreds of miles long and poured more troops into the country Tuesday in a potentially pivotal battle for control of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of coal mines and factories.

If successful, the Russian offensive in what is known as the Donbas would essentially slice Ukraine in two and give President Vladimir Putin a badly needed victory after the failed attempt by Moscow’s forces to storm the capital, Kyiv, and heavier-than-expected casualties nearly two months into the war.

The eastern cities of Kharkiv and Kramatorsk came under deadly attack, and Russia also said it struck areas around Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro west of the Donbas with missiles.

Russian military vehicles move on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine, Monday, April 18, 2022. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine for more than six weeks.
A member of security forces gives first aid to an injured man following a Russian bombing of a factory in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, April 19, 2022, killing at least one person and injuring three others.
The body of a man is covered by a tarp from a damaged truck following a Russian bombing of a factory in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

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Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said air-launched missiles destroyed 13 Ukrainian troop and weapons locations, while the air force struck 60 other Ukrainian military facilities, including missile warhead storage depots.

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