Russia declared today that its military campaign in eastern Ukraine was underway as it bombarded hundreds of targets across a sprawling 300-mile front, from Kharkiv in the north to Mariupol in the south.
For this new phase of the war, which Moscow says is aimed at seizing the entire Donbas region, Russia is taking a different strategy from that of the first weeks of the war, our correspondents Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Michael Schwirtz write.
Ukrainian and U.S. officials say Russia’s new campaign in the Donbas will be much more methodical than its previous operation, which involved tanks making rapid advances and helicopter assaults deep inside Ukraine. That approach resulted in heavy Russian casualties.
In the past several days, Russia has sent 11 more battalion tactical groups into the Donbas, bringing the number there to around 75, according to Pentagon officials. Each group has roughly 1,000 troops. It also has tens of thousands more in reserve north of Ukraine that are being resupplied and readied to join the fight.
“Compared to the first few weeks of the war, this next offensive is a lot less decisive than it may seem,” said Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at CNA, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia. “No matter what happens in the Donbas, the costs are likely to be so high that the Russian military will be a spent force.”
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