In preparation for the Donbas offensive, Russia has begun to recruit citizens from the breakaway province of Transnistria. It previously committed troops from the Kyiv offensive into Kharkiv from Belgorod. Zelenskyy has stressed the importance of Mariupol; though reports portray a grim outlook on the city’s fate, its defenders have refused to capitulate. Russian forces have faced fierce resistance and have been resorting to large-scale bombardment. Civilians caught in the crossfire have been ushered away, some kidnapped by occupying forces into the Russian Federation.
Despite the recent Donbas focus of Russian operations, Western governments have been hesitant to claim Putin’s goals had changed, still citing a Russian attempt for a complete takeover. These views were ‘confirmed’ by Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov in a Telegram post, claiming that after somehow taking the Donbas, Russian forces would take Kyiv. However, given the recent conflict between himself and upper Russian military leadership, the veracity of his claims is rightfully dubious.
Following Boris Johnson’s state visit, Britain has ramped up defensive efforts as part of its renewed commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty and Zelenskyy’s “anti-war coalition.” British intelligence has continued to report on war crimes by Russian troops. In France, President Emmanuel Macron seemed to lead over candidate Marie Le Pen, a nationalist with ties to Putin, in the first-round presidential results. Macron’s victory would cement Western Europe’s support and continued pressure on the rest of the EU for stiffer sanctions and consequences for Russian aggression.
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