- Zelenskyy warned on Friday of a “big war” in Donbas like “the world has not seen in hundreds of years.”
- Russian forces are regrouping for a new eastern offensive after failing to conquer Kyiv.
- Speaking to BILD, owned by Axel Springer, Insider’s parent company, Zelenskyy said Ukraine will defend the country “until the end.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday warned of fighting in Donbas that could result in the biggest war in centuries.
Speaking to the German newspaper BILD, owned by Axel Springer, Insider’s parent company, Zelenskyy predicted intense fighting in the coming days.
“It could be a big war in Donbas — like the world has not seen in hundreds of years,” he told BILD reporter Paul Ronzheimer.
“We will go on defending our country until the end,” the Ukrainian president continued.
This chilling forecast echoes what Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told NATO members on Thursday.
“The battle for Donbas will remind you of the second world war,” Kuleba said.
He used this warning to immediately call on Western allies to provide more heavy weaponry, including air defense systems, artillery, armored vehicles, and jets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are regrouping for a new eastern offensive on the Donbas region after failing to capture Kyiv.
President Zelenskyy was speaking in the aftermath of a Russian rocket attack that hit a train station in eastern Ukraine that was packed with people who had fled their homes. More than 50 people were killed.
The attack took place Friday morning in Kramatorsk, a town in Donetsk, an oblast that is also home to pro-Russian separatist forces. Donetsk is part of the Donbas region.
Donbas incorporates Luhansk and Donetsk, which runs from outside Mariupol in the south to the northern border.
Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Ukraine had fought Russian-backed separatists in the region since 2014.
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday they were “expecting a major offensive” in Donbas imminently.
Stoltenberg told reporters that a battle could last for “weeks, but also months, and possible also for years.”
The US is giving intel to Ukraine for operation in Donbas in advance of the battle, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk has encouraged Ukrainians living in the east to escape while they still can. She said civilians “will come under fire” if they do not flee.