Russia ramps up Ukraine offensive ahead of arms boost

Russia has redoubled its offensive in Donbas over the past month, making significant advances as Ukraine awaits a boost in Western arms supplies.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen on Sunday near Ocheretyne, Russia's latest conquest since the capture of the strategic city of Avdiivka in February.

Since the fall of Avdiivka, better armed and more numerous Russian forces have been steadily advancing westwards.

The advance accelerated in mid-April.

Ukraine's defense ministry on Sunday said it had registered a total of 125 Russian attacks along the 700-kilometer (435-mile) front line over 24 hours.

More than half of those attacks were in the area around Ocheretyne and the Ukrainian-held city of Chasiv Yar, which is under intensifying attacks.

For comparison, on a day in March, Ukraine said there had been 53 attacks, including 21 in those two areas.

  'Collapse of defences' 

While there have been no major breakthroughs, Russia's advance has caused a lot of surprise and prompted criticism within Ukraine.

The DeepState Telegram channel, which is close to the Ukrainian army, blamed the command of the brigade deployed in Ocheretyne for the "collapse of defences in the area, which led to considerable losses".

The brigade said on Facebook that its soldiers "did not run away" but had been subjected to daily fire from Russian positions that was "10 to 15 times" more powerful than Ukraine's firepower.

Ukraine has been warning for months about shortages in ammunition, blaming delays and indecision over Western supplies.

Washington last month finally approved a $61 billion aid package but observers warn that it will take time for that aid to materialise on the battlefield.

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