Lviv, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia has begun its offensive to take control of eastern Ukraine.

“Now we can already state that the Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” he announced Monday in a video address.

He said a “significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive.”

Russian military vehicles move on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine, Monday, April 18, 2022.

He vowed: “No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves. We will do it every day.”

Russia bombarded the western city of Lviv and numerous other targets across Ukraine on Monday in what appeared to be an intensified bid to grind down the country’s defenses while building up its own forces for a major ground offensive in the east.

At least seven people were reported killed in the missile strikes on Lviv, a city close to the Polish border that has seen only sporadic attacks during almost two months of war and has become a haven for civilians fleeing the fighting elsewhere. To the Kremlin’s increasing anger, Lviv has also become a major gateway for NATO-supplied weapons.

Emergency workers clear up debris after an airstrike hit a tire shop in the western city of Lviv, Ukraine, Monday April 18, 2022. Russian missiles hit the city of Lviv in western Ukraine on Monday, killing at least six people, Ukrainian officials said, as Moscow's troops stepped up strikes on infrastructure in preparation for an all-out assault on the east.
Destroyed structures stand on April 18, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. The Kyiv suburb was heavily damaged in fighting between invading Russian forces and Ukrainian troops weeks before.
In this drone image, A man walks near a destroyed business on April 18, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. The Kyiv suburb was heavily damaged in fighting between invading Russian forces and Ukrainian troops weeks before.

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In other developments, a few thousand Ukrainian troops, by Russia’s estimate, remained holed up at a mammoth steel mill in Mariupol, the last known pocket of resistance in the devastated southern port city.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted a filled-out questionnaire in the first step toward obtaining membership in the European Union – a desire that has been a source of tension with Moscow for years.



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