ussian attacks on the west of Ukraine are an attempt to stop reinforcements moving east, British defence chiefs have said.
Vladimir Putin’s forces have begun to refocus their attacks on the Donbas, after withdrawing from the north of Ukraine, which has been the scene of ongoing fighting for the last eight years.
In an early morning intelligence briefing, the Ministry of Defence said: “Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine show their intent to try and disrupt the movement of Ukrainian reinforcements and weaponry to the east of the country.”
Britain, America and other allies are supplying Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s armed forces with more military equipment, with armoured vehicles being sent out from the UK.
The West has pledged to deliver more weaponry in coming weeks and Mr Putin’s military is trying to destroy railway lines and roads to prevent it getting to the Donbas.
In Washington, the Pentagon said on Tuesday night that Ukraine had been supplied with more fighter planes from western allies.
Spokesman John Kirby said Mr Zelenksy’s forces “right now have available to them more fixed-wing fighter aircraft than they did two weeks ago”.
In London, the Ministry of Defence added: “Russia’s military presence on Ukraine’s eastern border continues to build, while fighting in the Donbas is intensifying as Russian forces seek to break through Ukrainian Defences.
“Russian air activity in northern Ukraine is likely to remain low since its withdrawal from north of Kyiv. However, there is still a risk of precision strikes against priority targets throughout Ukraine.”
On Monday, a Russian missile strike on Lviv killed seven people in one of the first major attacks on the western city.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said a further 12 people were wounded while three military infrastructure targets were also targeted.
The Russian siege of Mariupol continues with forces attacking the city’s Azovstal steelworks where the last remaining Ukrainian troops are stationed.
Speaking in a video message on Monday night, Mr Zelensky said his forces had pledged to “not give up anything Ukrainian”.
“No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves,” Mr Zelensky added.