Russian troops continue to redeploy and move into eastern Ukraine, likely in preparation for a renewed offensive in the Donbas region, satellite pictures suggest.
Dozens of armored vehicles as well as troops can be seen in fields and farms near the Russian towns of Dubrovka, Biriuch and Leonovka – around five miles inside Russia.
Meanwhile, across the border in eastern Ukraineseveral convoys of military equipment were seen traveling along the T2104 highway near the village of Vilkhuvatka.
Ukraine war latest – Zelenskyy makes offer to Putin after capturing his friend
The revelations from the latest satellite images from Maxar Technologies come after President Vladimir Putin vowed that his country’s offensive in Ukraine will continue until its goals are fulfilled, insisting that everything is going to plan.
Fierce Ukrainian opposition has led to significant Russian losses, with US defense sources now estimating that “just above 80 percent” of Kremlin combat power assembled before the invasion remains available.
Also on Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once more claimed that Kremlin forces are using phosphorus bombs in Ukraine.
In an address to Estonia’s parliament, he said the use of such weapons was “clear terror against the civilian population”.
Trucks dug in at Kherson airfield as Russian forces take up defensive positions
An image from Kherson airfield shows Russian supply and logistics trucks dug into the ground to protect them from attack.
The airfield was previously hit by Ukrainian strikes in mid-March which destroyed a number of aircraft.
The images suggest the Russians are continuing to take up defensive positions and intend to hold the base in the south of Ukraine, in addition to focusing on their renewed offensive in the east.
• Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boychenko said the city’s death toll could surpass 20,000, adding that Russian forces have brought mobile cremation equipment to dispose of corpses
• The US is preparing a new support package for Ukraine that could total $ 750m, a defense official has said. This week, delivery is due to be completed on the $ 800m package approved a month ago
• More than 10 million Ukrainians have now fled their homes, including nearly two-thirds of the country’s children
• At least 720 people have been killed in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs and more than 200 are considered missing, the Interior Ministry said
Images show Mariupol buildings burning amid relentless shelling
In southern Ukraine, aerial images appear to show signs of ongoing artillery shelling and recent attacks as the city of Mariupol continues to be hammered by Russian shelling.
Smoke and fire can be seen coming from a number of buildings throughout the western and eastern sections of the besieged port city, as well as in and near the Azovstal iron and steel works factory – the site of ongoing battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Meanwhile, what appear to be two Russian military resupply and maintenance bases have been established in southern Ukraine and in Crimea – likely being used to help reinforce and resupply operations in and near Mariupol, Kherson and Mykolaiv.
The satellite imagery from the past few days confirms that Russian forces have re-orientated to the east, likely deploying some of the forces that were previously based north of Kyiv.
What they do not show is whether these troops will be able to overcome the supply issues that have occupied the Russian forces so far.
One supply column pictured heading towards Izyum last week stretched across 8 miles of road. This is still well short of the 40-mile long convoy that was previously stuck near Kyiv, but it will encounter a familiar problem – Ukrainian mud.
The recent images show tire tracks where trucks have veered off road, indicating the ground is still wet and easily churned up.
It means the supply trucks will mostly be restricted to paved roads, creating congestion and making them easier targets for Ukrainian artillery.
The new eastward focus may give the Russians more supply routes compared to the area around Kyiv, where they were restricted to one or two main roads.
But the forecast is for more rain ahead –this problem isn’t going away any time soon for the Russians.
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Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, a senior US defense official said the Pentagon had tracked more than 1,540 Russian missile launches on Ukraine but that these were now being focused on a smaller area.
They added: “They have now collapsed their efforts to the east and to the south. And they’re operating in a much more confined geographic area.
“But we do not know how this fight’s going to unfold. And we can not perfectly predict that the Russians will not step up their number of air strikes if they feel they need to.”