Russian troops concentrate for new offensive in eastern Ukraine: Zelenskiy

  • Russian attacks in the east repulsed
  • Zelenskiy asks South Korea for military help
  • Austria’s Nehammer to meet Putin in Moscow on Monday
  • Germany sees evidence of war crimes

LVIV, Ukraine, April 11 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that thousands of Russian soldiers were massing for a new offensive in the east, and Russia said it would not stop its military operation in Ukraine to continue with the peace talks.

British intelligence said Ukrainian forces had already repulsed several Russian attacks in the eastern regions.

Russian forces were also pushing to establish control over the southern port city of Mariupol, the axis between Russian-controlled areas to the west and east and already devastated by weeks of siege and shelling.

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“There are tens of thousands dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelenskiy told the South Korean parliament via video link. Reuters was unable to verify the accuracy of his estimate.

Zelenskiy also called on Seoul to provide military aid to his country to strengthen its fight against the Russian attack.

The invasion, which Russia calls a “special military operation,” has left a trail of death and destruction that has drawn condemnation from Western countries and sparked concern about Putin’s broader ambitions.

Around a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people have been forced from their homes, cities have turned to rubble and thousands of people have been killed or injured, many of them civilians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin would not halt its operation for any new round of peace talks, accusing kyiv of failing to reciprocate in earlier sessions.

Lavrov told state television that he saw no reason not to continue the talks. But although Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a suspension of military action during a first round in February, Moscow’s position had changed, he said.

“A decision was made that during the next rounds of talks, there would be no pause (in military action) until a final agreement is reached,” Lavrov said.

Austrian leader Karl Nehammer was scheduled to meet Putin in Moscow on Monday and was expected to call for an end to the conflict. It would be Putin’s first face-to-face meeting with a European Union leader since the invasion of Russia began on February 24. Read more

“It must stop!” Nehammer wrote on Twitter.

For now at least, Russian forces have abandoned their attempt to capture the capital, kyiv, but are redoubling their efforts in the east.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russian shelling continued in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. But Ukrainian forces repulsed several attacks and destroyed Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery equipment, it said in its regular intelligence bulletin.


Zelenskiy kept up his campaign to build international support and unite his countrymen.

Addressing the South Korean parliament, he said Russia was massing tens of thousands of troops for the upcoming offensive. He asked Seoul for any military help he could provide.

Since Russia invaded, Zelenskiy has called on Western powers to provide more defense aid and punish Moscow with tougher sanctions, including embargoes on its energy exports.

Zelenskiy also said that Mariupol had been destroyed. Reuters journalists on Sunday saw several Russian tanks heading down a highway towards the city.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Russian sea-launched missiles on Sunday destroyed S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems that had been supplied to Ukraine by a European country. The systems were hidden in a hangar outside Dnipro, in central Ukraine, he said. Reuters was unable to confirm this.


The rise in civilian casualties has prompted widespread international condemnation and new sanctions.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television on Monday that shelling in the region was increasing by the day.

“The most difficult situation is in (the cities of) Rubizhne and Popasna. They are constantly being shelled, 24 hours a day,” Gaidai said.

He urged all civilians to evacuate. “Those who wanted to leave have already left, while now many are staying in bomb shelters who are perhaps afraid to leave the shelters or afraid of losing their possessions.”

Moscow has rejected accusations of war crimes by Ukraine and Western countries. He has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and says his goal is to demilitarize and root out dangerous nationalists in his southern neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told a meeting of European ministers in Luxembourg that Berlin saw “massive indications” of war crimes in Ukraine.


French bank Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) has become the latest company to pull out of Russia, agreeing to sell its stake in Rosbank and the Russian lender’s insurance subsidiaries to Interros Capital, a firm linked to billionaire Vladimir Potanin.

The Russian invasion triggered a barrage of financial sanctions from the United States, Europe and Britain, prompting Western companies to sell off their Russian assets.

Several EU ministers said on Monday that the bloc’s executive was drafting proposals for an oil embargo on Russia, although there was still no agreement to ban Russian crude. read more

The World Bank forecast that the war would cause Ukraine’s economic output to collapse by 45% this year, with half its businesses closed, grain exports mostly cut off by Russia’s naval blockade and destruction that would make it impossible to economic activity in many areas. read more

The bank forecast that Russia’s GDP would contract 11.2% this year due to Western sanctions.

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Information from the offices of Reuters and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Written by Lincoln Feast and Angus MacSwan, Edited by Stephen Coates and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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