STORY: Russia seized its first town after unleashing thousands of troops in what Ukraine has described as the Battle of the Donbas, a campaign to take two provinces.
Ukrainian officials insisted their troops would withstand the new assault, which they said began overnight with massive Russian artillery and rocket barrages and attempts to advance across almost the entire stretch of the eastern front.
In the first big reported success of Russia's new assault, Ukraine said the Russians had seized Kreminna, a frontline town of 18,000 people in Luhansk region, one of the two Donbas provinces.
Moscow gave few details about its new campaign, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that "another stage of this operation is beginning." Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia was "methodically" carrying out its plan to "liberate" Donetsk and Luhansk, provinces which Moscow demands Kyiv cede fully to Russian-backed separatists.