Ukraine to launch offensive against Donbass with Zakharchenko’s death

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The Ukrainian military is preparing an offensive in Donbass after the death of the leader of the People’s Republic of Donetsk (RPD) Aleksandr Zakharchenko, said the official representative of the operational command of the self-proclaimed republic, Eduard Basurin, on Saturday.

According to Basurin, Kiev is positioning an attack group in the direction of the city of Mariupol.

“Our intelligence services have detected an attack group being positioned by the Ukrainian armed forces in the direction of Mariupol under cover of Shtorm 2018 exercises,” said the representative.

According to him, Kiev is transferring war material and artillery to an area near the village of Rozovka, controlled by Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military may begin the offensive on September 14, Basurin said, adding that the information is substantiated by data obtained from drones that had been shot down.

The DPR forces, for their part, are ready to respond in case of an attack by Kiev.

“Our units are placed in a state of maximum readiness and are prepared for any scenario, including holding a counterattack in case the opponent attacks,” he said.

The leader of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, Aleksandr Zakharchenko , (DPR) was killed last Friday in an explosion at the Separ restaurant in the center of Donetsk. A Zakharchenko bodyguard also died and 11 others were injured. The DPR authorities described the incident as a terrorist attack. According to the interim leader of the DPR, Dmitry Trapeznikov, several suspects of the killings were detained and confirmed that a sabotage occurred on the part of Kiev. The Security Service of Ukraine, in turn, denied its involvement in the incident.

With Donbass defenders partially demoralized by this assassination, Kiev would feel it is their best opportunity to attack. However, Donbass’ defenses are secured and the Ukrainian military are unlikely to advance if they do launch an offensive.

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