Satellite imagery shows a huge Russian convoy heading to Izyum, Ukraine

KyivUS military officials said Sunday that analysts expect Russian forces to launch a major offensive from Izyum to the central city of Dnipro, a strategic target in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

The assessment came at a time when, on Friday, satellite images showed hundreds of military vehicles moving through the eastern town of Veliki Berluk towards the city of Izium.

Fighting has intensified around the city of Izyum since Moscow announced its intention to focus its combat operations in the east, and withdrew tens of thousands of its soldiers from the north after facing tougher-than-expected Ukrainian resistance.

“We’ve been talking for days and days about how important Isium is to them because it’s located roughly in the middle of the Donbas region to the west,” a senior Pentagon official said last Friday.

At the time, the senior Pentagon official said US intelligence analysts saw Russian forces in and around Izium preparing to move south and southeast to attempt an incursion into the Donbass region.

US officials said Sunday that Russian forces need Izyum to hold their western front lines and allow them to advance toward Dnipro and other strategic cities in the Donbass region.

Just south of the area is the city of Kramatorsk, where a Russian missile attack on a train station on Friday killed more than 50 people.

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