Ukrainian commander warns Russian attacks on eastern front escalating

A cloud of smoke rises above a site following a rocket attack in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion. Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi on Saturday warned Russia has re-upped its offensive in multiple locations on the eastern front. Photo by Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE

April 13 (UPI) -- Russia's offensive on the eastern front has escalated "significantly" in recent days, Ukraine's armed forces commander-in-chief said Saturday.

Oleksandr Syrskyi, the newly-appointed commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said in a Facebook post that the situation over the past few days has escalated "primarily due to the significant intensification of the enemy's offensive actions after presidential elections in the Russian Federation."

Russian forces are actively attacking the Lyman and Bakhmut fronts with assault groups supported by armored vehicles. Troops backed by tanks and infantry fighting vehicles also are trying to break through Ukrainian defenses in Pokrovsk, the commander-in-chief reported.

The warm, dry weather has made most of the open areas of the region accessible to heavy tanks, Syrskyi said.

"Despite significant losses, the enemy is increasing his efforts by using new units on armored vehicles, thanks to which he periodically achieves tactical gains," Syrskyi's post read.

Ukrainian forces also are fighting in Bohdanivka after Russian soldiers broke through the city's northern outskirts.

Syrskyi, who was appointed to the top military post by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Feb. 4, said his first day of work in the area was focused on "taking all necessary measures to stabilize the situation, increase the efficiency of our troops' actions and impose maximum losses on enemy units."

This will involve replenishing the Ukrainian army's supply of drones and anti-tank missiles, as well as relocating additional reserves of personnel and equipment.

"The issue of achieving technical superiority over the enemy in terms of high-tech weapons has arisen once again," Syrskyi said. "Only this will give us the opportunity to defeat the larger enemy and create conditions for seizing the strategic initiative."

The Ukrainian army also faces the challenge of improving training for personnel as Zelensky appeals for more support from the United States and other Western allies against Russian invaders.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have stonewalled President Joe Biden's $60 billion supplemental funding package for Ukraine as House Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to bring it to the floor.

Zelensky has said that without U.S. funding, it will be difficult for them to stay in the fight against Russia, let alone win.