Ukraine: Russia preparing offensive in southeast

Bucha (Ukraine): Russian forces on Tuesday were preparing for an offensive in Ukraine's southeast, the Ukrainian military said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's government is pouring soldiers into Ukraine's east to gain control of the industrial heartland known as the Donbas.

That follows a Russian withdrawal from towns around the capital, Kyiv, which led to the discovery of corpses, prompting accusations of war crimes and demands for tougher sanctions on Moscow.

Russian forces are focused on seizing the cities of Popasna and Rubizhne in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the Black Sea port of Mariupol, the General Staff said on its Facebook page.

Donetsk and Luhansk are controlled by Russian-backed separatists and recognized by Moscow as independent states.

The General Staff said access to Kharkiv in the east, Ukraine's second-largest city, was blocked.

The enemy is regrouping troops and concentrating its efforts on preparing an offensive operation in the east of our country," the statement said.

The goal is to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions."

Germany and France reacted by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, suggesting they were spies. President Joe Biden said Putin should be tried for war crimes.

This guy is brutal, and what's happening in Bucha is outrageous, Biden said, referring to the town northwest of the capital that was the scene of some of the horrors.

In another show of support, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to travel to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy this week, her spokesman Eric Mamer announced.

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