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Ukraine says Russian troops bolstering defenses to hold gains in east, south

War has entered ‘protracted phase,’ Ukraine defense minister warns, noting new Russian fortifications in Zaporizhzhia, Kherson regions to fend off any possible counter-offensive

A Ukrainian serviceman looks at a self-propelled howitzer on a road in Kharkiv region on May 17, 2022. (SERGEY BOBOK / AFP)
A Ukrainian serviceman looks at a self-propelled howitzer on a road in Kharkiv region on May 17, 2022. (SERGEY BOBOK / AFP)

KYIV, Ukraine — The war with Russia is entering “a protracted phase,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Tuesday, with Moscow’s troops now trying to take full control of the east and south of the country.

“Russia is preparing for a long-term military operation,” Reznikov told European Union defense ministers and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“The war is entering a protracted phase,” he added in the speech, the text of which was published on his Facebook page.

According to Reznikov, Russian troops are currently building fortifications in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions in order to “move to defense if necessary.”

The Kremlin’s main efforts are now focused on “encircling and destroying groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, creating and maintaining a land corridor from Russia to Crimea, and completing the occupation of southern Ukraine,” he added.

Reznikov called on Ukraine’s Western allies for more coordination in arms deliveries to Kyiv, “to liberate our territories as soon as possible.”

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