During a Monday press briefing the Pentagon told reporters that it's observed major Russian preparations for a bigger move deeper into the Donbas region of Ukraine.
Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters that based on US intelligence, the Russian military is now "trying to resupply and reinforce their efforts in the Donbas." This also as Western media reports have described an eight-mile long armored and infantry convoy that appear to be preparing for the fresh assault.
NEW: U.S. believes that Russia's 8-mile long military convoy that's heading toward Ukraine's contested city of Izyum originated near Belgorod and Valukyi: senior U.S. defense official.— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) April 11, 2022
Here's an April 8 satellite photo of the northern extent of the convoy.
"The convoy, exposed in commercial satellite imagery, stretches an estimated eight miles. It appears to contain vehicles to command and supply infantry units and possibly helicopters, said the official, who provided intelligence assessments on condition of anonymity," USA Today writes.
Kirby in the briefing described that "It does seem to be a mix of personnel carrying vehicles as well as armored vehicles and maybe some artillery, maybe some enabling capabilities."
He further cited satellite imagery that shows the convoy headed south toward Izyum, which is at the front line of the extent of Russian advance in Donbas. Kirby described these as major reinforcements.
Last month Russian forces drew back their positions outside of Kiev and with Russian commanders issuing formal statements confirming that the 'special operation' would now focus on liberating the Donbas region in the east. This has fueled speculation both that the Kremlin may be disappointed in how things are going so far, given the fierce Ukrainian resistance, and could be eyeing a partition of the country into eastern and western halves.
According to The Hill citing Pentagon leadership, the US has been expecting the battle for Donbas to intensify imminently:
The comments come after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Thursday warned there is a “significant battle yet ahead” around the Donbas, where the Kremlin intends to “mass forces and continue their assault” on the country after failing to take the capital of Kyiv.
Here are today's control-of-terrain maps for #Russia's invasion of #Ukraine from @TheStudyofWar and @criticalthreats. We are not mapping the alleged chemical attacks in #Mariupol, but will cover that incident later tonight in our daily written update. pic.twitter.com/Sp5ohQmXyQ— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) April 11, 2022
President Zelensky too is now warning of an impending major new Russian push to take the whole of Donbas, telling South Korean lawmakers in a virtual address, "The occupiers have sent dozens of thousands of soldiers and colossal numbers of equipment to prepare new attacks," according to NBC News.