Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (April 19)
As Monday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
Ukrainian and Russian leaders said a new phase of Russian operations in Ukraine has begun. Ukrainian officials dubbed it the battle for the Donbas, referring to the eastern area that Moscow had previously pressed Kyiv to cede to Russian-aligned separatists. The Kremlin has recognized two separatist republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that make up the Donbas.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a "substantial part" of the Russian army is now involved in the military operation. Luhansk's regional governor said Russian forces captured the town of Kreminna. Rockets and artillery shells fell on multiple Ukrainian cities, with Ukrainian media reporting explosions and air raid sirens across hundreds of miles. Ukrainian troops were expected soon to receive more heavy weaponry from the U.S. and NATO in the form of artillery, helicopters, drones and armored vehicles.
The Pentagon said Russia's "limited offensive operations" so far in the east are a "prelude" to larger operations. The Russian military continued to add battalion tactical groups, something the U.S. sees as Russia's attempt to avoid repeating its mistakes from the start of the invasion, including lack of food, fuel and other supplies. A senior U.S. defense official said Russia is now focusing on a more limited region, and has spent significant time building up substantial supplies.
The next phase of peace talks remains uncertain. Ukraine's lead negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said it was hard to predict when talks might resume because of the continued siege of Mariupol and the new offensive. Russia has accused Ukraine of undermining the talks with changing demands.
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