Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka likely to be next targets of 'indiscriminate attacks'

Fighters defending Mariupol are preventing the advance

Maria Dyachenko, 83, is helped into a vehicle during the evacuation of civilians in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. AP

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Two Ukrainian towns have been identified by the UK’s Ministry of Defence as the next probable targets of Russia’s intense bombing campaign if its forces can break through in besieged Mariupol.

Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka are likely to be targeted with the levels of violence seen in other urban centres, which has become a brutal trademark of the Russian offensive, British military intelligence said.

In its daily update on the war, the ministry said that “widespread missile and artillery strikes and efforts to concentrate forces for an offensive” showed a reversion to traditional Russian military doctrine.

The ministry added that Ukraine's continued defence of Mariupol was currently tying down significant numbers of Russian troops and equipment.

It said: “President Putin's speech on Tuesday highlighted his continued interest in the Donbas where Russia is striking Ukrainian forces in preparation for a renewed offensive.

“Urban centres have faced repeated indiscriminate attacks from Russia throughout the conflict. The towns of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka are likely to be Russian targets for similar levels of violence.

“The combination of widespread missile and artillery strikes and efforts to concentrate forces for an offensive represents a reversion to traditional Russian military doctrine.

“However, this will require significant force levels. Ukraine's continued defence of Mariupol is currently tying down significant numbers of Russian troops and equipment.”

Mariupol’s capture is critical for Russia because it would put a swath of territory in its control and would allow its forces in the south to link up with troops in the eastern Donbas region.

The city has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the war, with a heavy cost in civilian lives.

On Thursday Russia’s Defence Ministry said 134 more Ukrainian troops had surrendered in Mariupol, Reuters reported from Russia while operating under Russia’s media restrictions.

Russia’s navy has launched cruise missiles into Ukraine from the Black Sea, which are crucial in supporting land operations around Mariupol.

The flagship of the Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, was seriously damaged on Thursday, potentially reducing, but not eliminating, the naval threat to Ukraine.

The US is sending Ukraine an additional $800 million in US security, including helicopters, armoured personnel carriers and artillery systems, marking a deepening American military commitment towards Ukraine.

As the front line moves from Kyiv to the Donbas region, the US will also, for the first time, include 18 155mm Howitzer artillery systems in its package.

Updated: April 14, 2022, 11:18 AM
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