Huge Russian assault expected in Donetsk region

On Balance with Leland Vittert

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — As American troops returned to Fort Bragg from supporting the North Atlantic Treat Organization’s mission in Poland and Germany late last month, Russian tanks and troops began ripping through the eastern part of Ukraine with renewed vigor.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in seizing an eastern Ukraine province, prompting the governor to urge a mass evacuation of residents. And there are reports that Ukraine’s army is losing 200-500 troops a day.

It’s for this reason that retired four-star Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove told “On Balance with Leland Vittert” on Wednesday that he hopes U.S. troops will soon return to further bolster NATO.

“I hope we’re going to see a rotation back there by another unit,” Breedlove said. “As a part of the NATO summit that just occurred in Madrid, we agreed to move our core headquarters over and to reestablish a rotational brigade over.”

Donetsk and Luhansk comprise the Donbas — an industrialized eastern part of Ukraine that has seen the biggest battle in Europe for generations. Russia says it wants to wrest control of the entire Donbas from Ukraine on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in the two self-proclaimed people’s republics.

After Russian forces Sunday took control of Lysychansk, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, Ukrainian officials said they now expect Moscow to focus its efforts especially on the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk.

Breedlove said the U.S. needs to keep an eye on what’s going on there and that he hopes all the commitments made are fulfilled.

Watch the rest of the back-and-forth above.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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