Russia ‘readying tens of thousands of troops as Putin prepares brutal new onslaught

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British intelligence has said Ukraine’s forces had already fought off several assaults in eastern regions of the country. Russia’s forces have abandoned their attempt to capture the capital Kyiv but they are redoubling their efforts in the east. Vladimir Putin’s troops are still trying to gain control of the besieged Mariupol, seen as the lynchpin between Russian-held areas to the west and east.

The southern port city has been devastated by siege and bombardment, and has been a key focus for Russia troops.

Mr Zelensky issued the warning Russia was once again readying tens of thousands of troops for a renewed offensive during a message to South Korea’s parliament.

He also said via video link: “There are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive.”

The Ukrainian President appealed to South Korean lawmakers for arms and equipment to help it fight the war with Russia.

Mr Zelensky said: “The Republic of Korea has tanks, ships and various equipment that can block Russian missiles and we would be grateful if the Republic of Korea could help us fight back against Russia.

“If Ukraine is able to receive such weapons, it will not only help us save the lives of our ordinary citizens but also provide Ukraine an opportunity to survive as a nation, and also help prevent other countries from being attacked by Russia.

“Russia doesn’t care how many people die.”

The latest appeal from the Ukrainian leader comes with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warning his country will not stop its military operation in Ukraine for subsequent rounds of peace talks.

Russian officials have been adamant peace talks with Ukraine are not progressing as quickly as they would like.

At the same time, Moscow has accused the West of derailing negotiations by raising war crimes allegations against Russian troops in Ukraine, which Moscow denies.

Speaking during an interview with Russian state television, Mr Lavrov warned there was no reason to continue talks with Ukraine and insisted Moscow would not stop its military operation when the sides meet again.

He said Vladimir Putin had ordered to suspend military action during the first round of talks between the two countries at the end of February.

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But that since then, the Foreign Minister said Russia’s position had dramatically changed.

Mr Lavrov said: “After we became convinced that the Ukrainians were not planning to reciprocate, a decision was made that during the next rounds of talks, there would be no pause (in military action) so long as a final agreement is not reached.”

Russia gave the go-ahead for more than 100,000 troops lined on Ukraine’s border to begin its invasion on February 24 – despite repeated denials it was about to make such a move.

Ukrainian forces have mounted a spirited fightback as the West continues to impose sweeping and crippling sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

But last week, Mr Lavrov accused Ukraine of presenting Russia with an “unacceptable” draft peace deal that deviated from agreements the sides had previously reached.

At the time, Kyiv dismissed those claims as a tactic to undermine Ukraine or divert attention from war crime accusations against Russian troops.

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