Western defense alliance NATO has warned that the Ukraine war could be prolonged.
In the wake of the three-month war between Russia and Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden could immediately join the military alliance. He said it was up to the countries to decide. According to media reports, the two countries may submit an application to join NATO in May.
According to Ukrainian military officials, Russia has been amassing forces around the city, 75 miles southeast of Kharkiv on the Donets river, as well as around the Russian city of Belgorod across the border. There are unconfirmed claims that the chief of the Russian general staff, Valery Gerasimov, has been put in command of the push.
In the past week alone, Moscow has added 13 battalion tactical groups to the forces fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine, representing between 10,000 and 13,000 extra troops.
The mounting scale of the offensive around Izium comes as an unnamed US official suggested on Thursday that some Russian troops who had been fighting in the southern port city of Mariupol were being moved north west, perhaps as part of an effort to encircle areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions still under Ukrainian control.