Ukraine defence minister: Russia plans an offensive on February 24
According to the defence 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 attack would take place on February 23, Defender of the Fatherland Day, when Russia honours its armed forces.
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.” “with 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 authorised in September a mass mobilisation of about 300,000 conscripted troops.
The true number of recruits dispatched to Ukraine, according to Mr. Reznikov, could be much 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.
After a struggle that lasted months and resulted in significant casualties on both sides, Russia has claimed recent victories in the eastern Donbas region and its forces believe they are closing in on the front-line town of Bakhmut.
Bakhmut was “operationally surrounded” on Wednesday, according to Yan Gagin, a Russian-appointed official. Last month, Russian mercenaries and regular forces took control of the nearby town of Soledar.
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 for the alleged Russian advance, Mr Reznikov stated that Ukrainian commanders would work to “stabilise the front and prepare for a counter-offensive.”
He continued, saying that the troops of Ukraine “must lose the initiative” they have acquired over the past several months, and he reiterated his conviction that 2023 can be the year of a military triumph.
The defence minister travelled to France to negotiate a deal to buy more MG-200 air defence 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.”
In line with Mr Reznikov’s statements, Ukrainian intelligence has claimed that President Putin has told his troops to take the Donbas by the end of the spring.
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 haven’t seen any indication that President Putin has modified the invasion’s primary objective, which is to subdue Ukraine, a neighbour. We must be equipped for a lengthy journey.”