Russia is planning a new major offensive in Ukraine in late winter to contain another crackdown on its failed attempt to march on the capital Kyiv, according to officials and analysts familiar with the ground situation.
The top commander of Ukraine’s armed forces said this week he expected a new winter offensive to begin at least by March in Ukraine’s east – the center of Russia’s latest offensive after losing key territory in the north and south. It could also stem from the staging situation in Belarus, despite President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to distance himself from the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, a key Russian ally.
Valery Zaluzny said that he “has no doubt that he will go to Kyiv one more time.”
The Ukrainian general’s assessment matches the concerns of US and other Western military officials. They have warned in recent days that Putin appears eager to gain momentum – and force Kyiv to the negotiating table – at a time when troops loyal to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, backed by his Western backers, , appear more prepared than ever to fight to take back their possession. region.
Indeed, US officials have recently indicated that they believe Ukraine has maintained and strengthened its position to the extent that it can take back strategically important territory seized by Russia. . NBC News reported Friday that unnamed Biden administration officials briefed Congress in late November on intelligence suggesting that the Ukrainian military now has the capability to push Russian troops out of the Crimean peninsula, even though it is close to Kyiv. does not appear to be a near-term priority for And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley similarly briefed members of Congress on Thursday as the war in Ukraine reaches the 10-month mark.
“It is incredible how resilient the Ukrainian people are. They are going to fight this winter. They are going to continue to fight Russia, and with our help, they are going to win this war,” a visibly upbeat Representative Seth Moulton, Massachusetts The Democrat, who recently returned from participating in a small congressional delegation to Kyiv, told CNN at the briefing.
Russia carried out a particularly large launch of rockets and missiles in Kyiv on Friday, worrying Zelensky a video statement Shortly after.
“They still have enough rockets for many more such massive attacks,” Zelensky said in his native language while wearing a sweatshirt with “I am Ukrainian” written in English. “We will have enough determination and faith in ourselves to take back what is ours.”
The efforts so far have failed to weaken the Ukrainian government and force it to reconsider peace talks for a nearly year-long war that Putin’s top advisers originally thought would last for days. For Moscow within will end brilliantly.
The independent Institute for the Study of War said, “Putin could therefore set the conditions for a third, successive military effort in the likely event that these two efforts secure their objectives by preparing for a renewed offensive against Ukraine in the winter of 2023.” failed to do.” , which has tracked Russian military movements since its invasion on February 24, concluded in a new analysis note.
It notes the training alignment of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who were pressed into service earlier this year by Putin and taken to the front lines with heavy equipment. These maneuvers, combined with Moscow’s latest operations, indicate preparations for some kind of major movement in the early months of next year.
Although an attack is not imminent, the institute, along with others, believe the new campaign is “unlikely to be exceptionally successful.”
A new analysis by the private intelligence firm RANE concluded, “A renewed Russian offensive from the north, including the inclusion of Belarus in the war, is possible but is currently unlikely due to resource constraints and the high risk associated with such an operation.” Not even a possibility.”
It has also been speculated that Zaluzny may have referred to Belarus in his latest warning to publicly show that Ukraine is concerned about Russian troop movements there and to allow Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko any access to territory under its control. providing cover to push back against new Russian army deployments. ,
The new concerns for Ukraine’s Western backers come at a consequential time. The US this week is reportedly preparing to offer highly sophisticated Patriot missile defense batteries to Ukraine, a move that many US officials and military analysts believe will provide a dramatic practical and psychological boost to Ukraine. Also will anger the Kremlin.
Others say that despite Russia’s latest acts of aggression, its military is fundamentally unwilling to convert its large numbers into meaningful battlefield victories.
British military intelligence revealed on Friday morning that new imagery shows Russian forces using old tactics primarily used on World War II battlefields to build defensive positions along their front lines through ditches. The focus is on establishing position.
“The construction of key defense lines is illustrative of Russia’s reversion to positional warfare largely abandoned by most modern Western armies in recent decades,” it assesses.