Ukraine said Russian forces were seeking to form “occupation administrations” in Moscow-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine as president Volodymyr Zelensky warned of “powerful strikes” on the region.
The Ukrainian military said on Friday that Russia was trying to set up governance structures in the “temporarily occupied” districts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and parts of Zaporizhzhia.
The statement followed days of warnings that Moscow was preparing to intensify its attacks. Russia has increased the number of troops in the Donbas region while continuing its military assault in the south of the country. UK intelligence services said Russia was redeploying forces from Georgia to fight in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s military said: “In the temporarily occupied territories, the Russian enemy continues its illegal actions, restricting the movement of civilians, using the houses and apartments of local residents to accommodate personnel, and holding local residents and activists hostage. Marauding and violence against Ukrainian citizens continues.”
Ukrainian and Russian military claims cannot be independently verified.
Zelensky also said he had stripped two generals of their military ranks. The Ukrainian president called the former internal security chief at the SBU, Ukraine’s intelligence service, and a general previously in charge of security for the SBU in the Kherson region, “traitors” and “anti-heroes”.
Ukrainian forces have prevented Russia from capturing any big cities, including Kyiv, where Moscow has pulled out some troops that were fighting near the capital. But the war is raging in the east and the south, where Russian forces are pounding the besieged port of Mariupol despite pledges that it would implement a ceasefire.
Moscow has said it was moving into the “final phase” of operations after “achieving all the main tasks” in northern Ukraine and would focus on the Donbas region in the east, where it has already taken over…
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