New Phase of Ukraine War? Russia Shifts Focus

Russian forces in Ukraine appear to have shifted their focus from a ground offensive aimed at Kyiv to instead prioritizing what Moscow calls the liberation of the contested Donbas region, suggesting a new phase of the war.

It appears too early to know whether this means President Vladimir Putin has scaled back his ambitions in Ukraine, but Russian military moves this week indicate a recognition of the surprisingly stout Ukrainian resistance. Russian-backed separatists have controlled part of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine since 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday again appealed to Russia to negotiate an end to the war, but he said Ukraine would not agree to give up any of its territory for the sake of peace.

Putin’s forces are under great strain in many parts of the country, and the United States and other countries are accelerating their transfer of arms and supplies to Ukraine. In recent days, U.S. officials have said they see evidence of Ukrainian defenders going on the offensive in a limited way in some areas.

Putting a positive face on it all, the deputy chief of the Russian general staff said his forces had largely achieved the “main objectives” of the first phase of what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

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