Russia bombards Ukraine as West pledges more aid

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Russia has intensified ground attacks across southern and eastern Ukraine in recent weeks

, and a major new offensive appears to be shaping as the first anniversary of its Feb. 24 invasion nears.

Luhansk and Donetsk provinces make up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, which is now partially occupied by Russia. It wants full control of the Donbas and its current focus is on encircling and taking the small city of Bakhmut in Donetsk.Bakhmut’s capture would give Russia a stepping stone to advance on two bigger cities, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk further west in Donetsk, to revive Moscow’s momentum ahead of the Feb. 24 anniversary.

Senior U.S. officials have advised Ukraine to hold off with a major counter-offensive until the latest supply of U.S. weaponry is in place and training has been provided. Russia calls the invasion a “special military operation” against security threats and has cast deliveries of heavy weapons to Ukraine as proof that the West is escalating the war.In the latest of a stream of foreign dignitaries to visit Ukraine, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was set to meet Zelensky in Kyiv. It was the first such visit from a senior Israeli official since the war began.


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