Russia mobilises 200,000 soldiers ahead of ‘very active phase of war’
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Ukraine: Residential building destroyed in Kramatorsk
Russia’s major spring offensive could have already started as they step up attacks across eastern Ukraine, increasing strikes on conflict areas and massing hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Ukrainian officials have warned that they are on “the eve of a very active phase of the war”, while President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested such a period had “started” already. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this week that “more than 200,000” Russian soldiers are “preparing for more war”. It comes as Putin prepares to make a speech later today from the city formerly known as Stalingrad to commemorate the Soviets’ defeat of the Nazis in a decisive World War II battle. His last speech, in September, included the mobilisation of 300,000 Russian soldiers to Ukraine.
Russia ready for next ‘intensive’ phase of war
As Ukraine fights to defend the frontline, rotating soldiers on a four-day cycle, “new groups of career military” Russians keep arriving for a new attack, the Ukrainian President has said, suggesting that Putin’s anticipated spring attack is now underway.
It was unclear when Russia’s next major offensive would be launched in Ukraine beyond the notion of spring, with Ukrainian officials saying they did not rule out “any scenario in the next two or three weeks”, but a significant increase in bombardments on defending positions suggests that the attack has already started.
Konrad Muzyka, a military analyst for Rochan Consulting, which tracks Russian deployments, said that reported Russian artillery barrages on Ukrainian positions had risen to 90 per day as of last week. A month ago, the average was 60 strikes per day.
Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, during a visit to France this week, said he believed Russia could “try something” to mark the anniversary of the invasion on February 24.
He suggested he could “see troops at the borders” and that it is possible the mobilisation figure of 300,000 announced by Vladimir Putin last September could be an underestimate.
Good morning from London. I’m Tom Watling, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.
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