Russia plans to launch a major offensive to coincide with the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine On February 24, according to the country’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov.
In an interview with the French media, He warned Reznikov that Russia would call up a large contingent of massed forces. Referring to Russia’s general mobilization of 300,000 conscripted soldiers in September last year, he claimed that figures at the border indicated the real size could be closer to 500,000.
“We do not underestimate our enemy,” said Reznikov. “They officially announced 300,000, but when we see the troops on the border, according to our estimates, the number is much more.”
The Guardian has not been able to independently verify these figures.
Wednesday evening, Mr. President Volodymyr Zelensky He said Russian forces were trying to make gains they could show on the anniversary of their invasion in February, and issued a harrowing account of the situation in the eastern province of Donetsk.
A definite increase in the offensive operations of the occupiers was noted on the front in the east of our country. Zelensky said in a video address.
Reznikov said the offensive would likely be concentrated in two regions: the east of the country, which has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks; and south.
“We think so, given that [Russia] Living in tokenism, they’re going to try something around February 24th.”
Last week, Oleksey Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, warned that Russia was preparing a wave of attacks to mark the anniversary of the February 24 invasion.
He claimed that the Russian forces were tasked with “crossing the borders” of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Donetsk and Luhansk make up the Donbass, a region bordering Russia that President Vladimir Putin has set as a target for capture since the start of the war.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Hayday claimed that Russian forces were expelling residents near Russian-controlled parts of the front line so that they could not tell Ukrainian artillery forces to deploy troops.
“There is an active transfer of [Russian troops] To the region and they are definitely preparing for something on the Eastern Front in February.
The Ukrainian Defense Minister was in France to meet with President Emmanuel Macron and to secure the purchase of air defense radars. He was also putting pressure on European countries To send F-16 fighter jets to UkraineIt is something Macron said his country has not ruled out.
“We tell our partners that we must be ready as soon as possible,” Reznikov told French media. “This is why we need weapons to contain the enemy.”
Intelligence experts and analysts have long suggested that there will be a renewed offensive Perhaps it will be launched by Russia before spring. Much of the fighting in the east of the country had been in a stalemate for several weeks, with both sides reportedly taking heavy losses in their sleep.
At least three people were killed late on Wednesday in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, after a Russian missile strike destroyed an apartment building.
At least eight residential buildings were damaged. Police said in a Facebook post that one of them was completely destroyed. “People may remain under the rubble.”
The region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilenko, posted a photo that appears to show a four-storey building in Kramatorsk that was severely damaged.
President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram after the attack: “This is not a replay of the past, it is the everyday reality of our country – a country with absolute evil on its borders.”
Zelensky wrote in a separate tweet: “The only way to stop Russian terrorism is to defeat it. With tanks. Fighter planes. Long-range missiles.”
Reuters contributed to this report
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