Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun, Kyiv says

‘Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas,’ says President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as attacks escalate.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia’s widely anticipated military offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun.
  • The governor of Donetsk says four civilians have been killed in Russian shelling.
  • The US plans to begin training Ukrainians on howitzer artillery systems in the coming days, a senior defence official has said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin says Western sanctions on Moscow have failed.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 54
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Another US shipment of military aid for Ukraine expected to arrive

Psaki has said that four planes delivered US military assistance to Ukraine over the course of the weekend, and a fifth was due to arrive.

“Another one is supposed to arrive today, if it hasn’t already, from the $800m package” of additional American aid to Kyiv announced last week, the White House spokeswoman said.

Read more about what’s in that US military package here.

Members of Ukrainian volunteer corps sit next to a howitzer
Members of the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps sit next to a howitzer, March 27, 2022 [Stanislav Yurchenko/Reuters]

US considering additional sanctions on Russia: White House

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said the Biden administration is continuing “to review and consider additional sanctions” against Russia.

Psaki said existing US measures have led to a “squeeze” on the Russian economy that the Biden and senior administration officials intended. “We are continuing to review and I expect we’ll have more in the coming days,” she told reporters.

Four dead in shelling in Ukraine’s Donetsk region: Governor

Russian shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has killed four people, Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on his Telegram channel.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figure.

‘Battle of the Donbas’ has started, says Ukraine’s Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff says “the second phase of the war has started”, referring to Russia’s new assault in the country’s east.

“Believe in our army, it is very strong,” Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app, assuring Ukrainians that Ukraine’s forces could hold off the offensive.

In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy also said, “We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared.”

US to begin training Ukrainians on howitzer cannons in next days

The United States plans to begin training Ukrainians on how to operate howitzer artillery systems in the coming days, a senior US defence official has said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the howitzer training would take place outside Ukraine.

The Biden administration recently announced a new $800m weapons package for Ukraine to help the country bolster its defences against an expected Russian offensive in the east. Read more here.

Ukraine says it has seen signs Russian offensive in east has begun

Ukraine’s armed forces command has said it believed that Russia had started a new push for control of the east, increasing the intensity of attacks.

“This morning [Monday], along almost the entire frontline of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defences,” Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in televised comments.

That was echoed by the governor of the Luhansk region, Sergiy Gaiday. “It’s hell. The offensive has begun, the one we’ve been talking about for weeks. There’s constant fighting in Rubizhne and Popasna, fighting in other peaceful cities,” he said on Facebook.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Monday, April 18 here.

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