President of Ukraine said that Russian troops had begun the fight for Donbas.

James Longman reports on Russian troops intensifying their offensive in Donbas.

LONDON — Russia launched an aggressive ground offensive late Monday to seize control of eastern Ukraine, signaling the long-awaited beginning of a new phase in the almost two-month-old war.

According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces attacked along a 300-mile front in the disputed Donbas, the predominately Russian speaking industrial heartland of Ukraine’s east. Since 2014, Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian soldiers and have declared two independent republics that are recognized by Moscow.

“Russian troops have started the battle for Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy declared late Tuesday night in his nightly broadcast. “A large portion of the Russian army is now focusing on this offensive.”

Despite strong resistance from Ukrainian troops, Russian forces have not been able to take control of large cities since invading Ukraine’s neighboring country on February 24th from Belarus, to its north and Russia to the east. Russian forces failed to capture Kyiv capital and began to regroup in the east. This was in preparation for an assault on the Donbass, which Russian officials stated would be the main objective of their “special military operation.”

On Tuesday morning, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, announced that “another phase of this operation” was underway.

In an interview with India Today (an English-language Indian television channel), Lavrov stated that “I am certain this will be an extremely important moment of the entire special operation.”

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Lavrov pointed out that the goal, as it was stated from the beginning, was to “fully free” the self-proclaimed Donetsk or Luhansk people’s republics in Donbas.