Russian assaults have intensified in a number of sites in eastern Ukraine, including Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk, according to Ukrainian military and regional sources, reported CNN.

Russian soldiers appear to be aggressively shelling all three locations in preparation for a planned ground offensive.

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“The main focus of the Russian enemy is on the regrouping and strengthening of troops,” around Slobozhansky, which is south of Kharkiv, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Russian forces are attempting to blockade Kharkiv, which is still being shelled, and have placed up to 22 battalion tactical units around Izyum, according to the General Staff. A battalion tactical group is typically made up of 1,000 troops.

“The main efforts of the enemy are focused on maintaining the previously occupied positions,” it stated, referring to the deployment of additional Russian units.

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Russian efforts in the Donetsk region were focused on capturing the villages of Popasna and Rubizhne, as well as gaining full control over the important port city of Mariupol, it added.

The General Staff also mentioned continual bombardment at Ukrainian positions in the vicinity of Popasna, claiming that Russian forces were “trying to improve the tactical situation, to advance deep into the settlement of Popasna,” but were ultimately thwarted.

It claimed increased firing around Severodonetsk “iin order to inflict losses, deplete our troops and possibly prepare for offensive operations,” as well as shelling in Toretsk further south.

As per a local authority, one person was murdered in Kreminna, which is located just north of Severodonetsk, reported CNN.

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Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk regional administration, said that efforts are continuing to bring people of the towns of Rubizhne and Kreminna to safety amid severe combat in the area. He went on to say that there is no water or gas in Severodonetsk.

Ten Russian enemy strikes were repulsed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the last day, according to the General Staff.

“The main events that we will talk about in the coming days, or rather weeks, will be events related to the fighting in Ukrainian Donbas,” Vadym Denysenko, a Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser, stated, on Saturday.

According to Ukrainian officials, Russian missile assaults have spread outside the Donbas region.

According to Dmytro Lunin, the leader of the Poltava military administration, one person was murdered in an attack on a village near the city of Poltava.

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On Friday, the country’s top general said he spoke with the top US military official.

Valery Zaluzhny said he discussed “heavy fighting on the Kharkiv-Izyum border, deterrence of the Russian offensive in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the critical situation around Mariupol, and rocket fire throughout Ukraine,” with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.

“I reiterated the urgent needs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine in armaments and ammunition to strengthen our defense capabilities,” Zaluzhny added. 

The news comes as Russian preparations continue in eastern Ukraine for an offensive operation.