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Russia’s eastern offensive has begun, Ukraine says, as strikes rock Lviv

Five missiles struck Lviv, Ukraine, on April 18, killing at least seven and injuring at least 11 people. (Video: Erin Patrick O'Connor, Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)
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Russia appears to have launched its long-anticipated large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine, officials said Monday, after Moscow stepped up missiles attacks, including one on the western city of Lviv that killed at least seven — the city’s first fatalities since the war began.

Moscow has for weeks been amassing troops and supplies in preparation for its renewed assault on the Donbas region, which became the Kremlin’s primary focus after its forces failed to capture Kyiv during the first phase of the invasion. “It can now be stated that the Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive.”

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, said Russia attacked along nearly the entire front line in Donbas and Kharkiv, breaking through in two small cities. “Fortunately, our military is holding on,” Danilov said. The Pentagon did not contradict the Ukrainian assessment but took a more cautious approach, with spokesman John Kirby saying the Russians “are shaping and setting the conditions for future offensive operations.”

Here’s what to know

  • U.S. immigration officials detained more than 5,000 migrants from Ukraine at the nation’s land, sea and air borders in March, with a significant increase in those seeking refuge at the U.S-Mexico boundary.
  • The Pentagon says Russian forces are learning from their frustrated assault on Kyiv as they shift to Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of earlier mistakes.
  • Ukrainian forces in the strategic city of Mariupol continued to hold out against a Russian siege that is now largely focused on a steel plant that most of the resistance is using as a base.
  • Washington Post reporters observed evidence of lethal darts rarely seen in modern conflict used by Russian forces near Kyiv.
  • The sinking of the Russian warship Moskva is causing tension back home, where some families are reporting sailors dead or missing despite a defense ministry claim that the whole crew had been evacuated.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates
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