The Zaporizhzhia Regional Council said Monday that the region was “preparing for defense” amid warnings that Russian forces were readying an offensive in the south-central part of Ukraine.
“The enemy is preparing for the offensive,” the council said in a statement. “Occupying Russian troops have gathered a lot of equipment and personnel on the section of the front line Velyka Novosilka – Novodarivka – Malynivka. The enemy is trying to move in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, but no success. Location of forces at the front has not changed.”
The city of Zaporizhzhia has been a key way station for evacuees departing the encircled city of Mariupol and Russian-held areas of southern Ukraine.
The council said an evacuation column had departed from Zaporizhzhia to Mariupol, but lost communication less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Manhush, west of Mariupol.
Evacuation columns have been hampered by active fighting and have been held frequently at Russian checkpoints.
“Zaporizhzhia is preparing for defense,” the statement added.
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