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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to oppose the Russian offensive in the Donbas region Monday as Russian President Vladimir Putin refocused his forces on the east and south of Ukraine.
“No matter how many soldiers are drawn there, we will defend ourselves,” Zelenskyy said in an address on the results of the 54th day of the war. “We will fight. We will not give up anything Ukrainian.”
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“I am grateful to all our fighters, all our heroic cities in Donbas, Mariupol, and the cities of Kharkiv region who hold on,” he added. “Which protect the fate of all Ukraine, holding back the strength of the gourd. Rubížne, Popasna, Zolote, Lysyčansk, Sêvierodonetsk, Kramatorsk and all-all, which throughout all these years and forever – with Ukraine.”
Russian forces are focusing on the south and east of Ukraine after their initial assault in major cities across the country, most notably the capital of Kyiv, faltered under heavy Ukrainian opposition earlier this month.
The Donbas is Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial heartland in the east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for the past eight years and have declared two independent republics that have been recognized by Russia.
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In recent weeks, Kremlin declared the capture of the Donbas its main goal of the war after its attempt to storm Kyiv failed.