Ukraine has been actively shelling Russian military bases in Melitopol and the surrounding area for the past two weeks; Russian officials suspect this is in preparation for the much anticipated Ukrainian spring counteroffensive.
The Mayor of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ivan Fedorov, said that Ukrainian army strikes began on Monday, Mar. 27 against Melitopol and the settlements of Fedorivka, Vesele, near Molochansk, Tokmak, and Myrne. On Apr 6, the Ukrainian army again attacked Russian military bases near Vesele and Melitopol.
Referring to the Apr 6 attacks, Fedorov said that "A few days before, the occupiers had brought military equipment to the village and jammed residents’ mobile communications so that they could not report what was happening.”
Fedorov has urged inhabitants to evacuate the city immediately, on his telegram channel: "The enemy has turned Melitopol into the terrorist capital of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region. It is necessary to leave the occupation now!”
Russian media has also reported increased attacks by Ukrainian forces on Melitopol and the surrounding area.
On Apr. 4, Vladimir Rogov - Chairman of the "We are together with Russia" movement and member of the so-called council of Russian military-civil occupation administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, commented to TASS that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were striking Melitopol more frequently as they need to probe and check the situation for an offensive in the direction of Zaporizhzhia.
"The increase in the number of strikes on Melitopol is since the Ukrainian Armed Forces are probing the territory and preparing for an offensive," he said. According to Rogov, the Ukrainian army may launch a counteroffensive at any time, and Zaporizhzhia would be a priority for them.
Earlier the Russian puppet and so-called head of the Zaporizhzhia region, Yevhen Balitsky, told Russian media that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are concentrating near Zaporizhzhia and preparing a counteroffensive.
"This is an alarming time. We know about the build-up of Ukrainian forces near Zaporizhzhia. They are preparing for a counteroffensive" Balitsky claimed.
At the end of March, analysts from the American Institute for the Study of War reported on the success of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Zaporizhzhia region. Ukrainian officials commented that the military recaptured some positions to take up more favorable positions for an upcoming counter-attack.
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