According to the defense minister of Ukraine, Russia is preparing a significant new offensive that might start as early as February 24.
Oleksii Reznikov claimed that Moscow had gathered thousands of soldiers and could “try something” to commemorate the first invasion anniversary last year.
The assault would coincide with Russia’s celebration of the army on February 23, which is Defender of the Fatherland Day.
In the meantime, a Kramatorsk attack has claimed the lives of three persons.
A Russian missile struck a residential building in the city in the Donetsk area, the provincial governor reported, injuring eight more people.
As rescuers search through the debris, the death toll is anticipated to grow.
In response to the attack, Mr. Zelensky stated on social media that “the only way to end Russian terrorism is to beat it.” Using tanks. fighter planes long-range weapons
Following Germany, the US, and the UK’s agreement to supply them tanks, Ukraine has recently increased its requests for fighter jets to assist defend itself from air attacks.
According to Mr. Reznikov, Moscow has prepared some 500,000 soldiers for the impending offensive.
In order to protect the nation’s “territorial integrity,” Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized in September a mass mobilization of about 300,000 conscripted troops.
However, Mr. Reznikov opined that the actual number of recruits sent to Ukraine may be far higher.
He told the French BFM network, “Officially they announced 300,000 but when we see the army at the borders, according to our evaluations it is far more.” The BBC is unable to independently confirm this number.
The war has recently come to a standstill when Ukraine retook the southern city of Kherson, despite some intense combat in the eastern Donbas region.
Except for Russia’s takeover of the town of Soledar, no side has made any significant territorial gains.
However, it has long been thought that a Russian spring offensive and a Ukrainian counteroffensive are likely. Moscow may attempt to “undertake a decisive step” and begin a “major offensive” in the east, according to a recent report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in the US.
In preparation of the alleged Russian advance, Mr. Reznikov stated that Ukrainian commanders would work to “stabilize the front and prepare for a counter-offensive.”
He added that Ukraine’s forces “must lose the initiative” they have gained in recent months and expressed his belief that 2023 can be the year of a military victory.
The defence minister traveled to France to negotiate a deal to buy more MG-200 air defense radars, which he claimed would “substantially boost the armed forces’ capabilities to identify air targets, including winged and ballistic missiles, and drones of various types.”
The allegations made by Ukrainian intelligence that President Putin has instructed his forces to occupy the Donbas by the end of spring coincide with Mr. Reznikov’s remarks.
However, in a Monday speech, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a cautionary statement, stating that there were no signs that Mr. Putin had restricted his military objectives to capturing the eastern parts of Ukraine.
According to Mr. Stoltenberg, “that they are aggressively collecting new weapons, more ammunition, increasing their own manufacturing, but also purchasing more weapons from other authoritarian governments like Iran and North Korea.”
“Most importantly, we have seen no indication that President Putin has altered the main objective of this assault, which is to rule Ukraine, a neighbor. We must be ready for the long haul as long as this is the case.
Hanna Malyar, the deputy minister of defense for Ukraine, reported that fierce battle was still going on in the Donbas region, where Russian forces and mercenaries from the Wagner Group have been attempting to seize the town of Bakhmut.
She continued by pointing out that Moscow’s forces were also attempting to take Lyman, the former Russian supplies center that Ukrainian forces had retaken in October.
She posted on the Telegram messaging service that “Russian troops are aggressively attempting to reach the boundaries of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.” Every every inch of Ukrainian territory is protected by our soldiers, she stated.
Zelensky cautioned that the circumstances on the front lines of the conflict was trying his forces in a speech on Wednesday night.
According to Mr. Zelensky, “the situation is getting increasingly worse” and “there is a certain escalation in the invaders’ offensive activities at the front – in the east of our country.”
Despite the Wagner group’s claims that it played a significant role in Russia’s recent victories in the east, a former leader who fled to Norway told Reuters that he saw Russian detainees who were sent to Ukraine to fight for the group being killed and treated horribly.
Unverified claims by Andrei Medvedev state that during the four months he spent with Wagner, he witnessed two non-combatants being shot.
According to the US National Security Council, jails have provided over 80% of Wagner’s Ukrainian soldiers.