Russia Preparing for Major Offensive in Ukraine Ahead of One-Year Anniversary
Russia is poised to launch a major new offensive in Ukraine as the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion approaches, though the U.S. and its European partners are doing their best to provide Ukraine with air defense capabilities. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stressed the need for Ukraine to have the ability to protect itself if Russia chooses to introduce its air force into the fight. Reports indicate that Russia has amassed tens of thousands of poorly trained soldiers, including conscripts from a mass mobilization last Fall, just outside the range of American made precision missiles.
The U.S. and Ukraine have warned for weeks that Russia is preparing a major onslaught of fighting, with Moscow reportedly planning a mobilization of between 300,000 to 500,000 troops. The Washington Post disclosed that targeting of the game-changing HIMARS system depends on information provided by U.S. intelligence, while Russia has given no information on casualties since September when Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 5,937 troops had died in Ukraine.
Ukraine has reported more than 1,000 Russian soldiers killed in a single day of fighting, raising the total throughout the war to more than 133,000, while Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, estimated in early December that as many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the war began. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley estimated that both sides had seen about 100,000 soldiers killed or injured, and Norwegian Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen also estimated the Ukrainian side to have over 100,000 personnel killed or injured.
NATO defence ministers met on Tuesday to discuss the provision of further support for Ukraine, including ramping up production in NATO countries of ammunition and other military aid. The United Kingdom's defense intelligence agency reported on Tuesday that Russia had been attempting to execute “significant offensive operations” since the beginning of last month, yet had only been able to acquire several hundred meters of land per week due to the dearth of munitions and maneuver units.
However, U.S. and Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia may make greater use of its three dozen fighter squadrons, two dozen attack squadrons, and eight bomber squadrons in an effort to swing down from the north and up from the south in a pincer movement that encircles Ukrainian forces in the Donbas.
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1. “Russia prepares ‘air fight’ as Ukraine ground war grinds on” Al Jazeera English, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/14/russia-prepares-air-fight-as-ukraine-ground-war-depletes-forces
2. “Ukraine Plotting Counteroffensive Against Russia Within ‘Weeks,' U.S. Says” The Daily Beast, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukraine-plotting-counteroffensive-against-russia-within-weeks-us-says
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5. “‘Well Over 300,000 Killed’: Why US Claims Of Russian & Ukrainian Soldiers Dead In Ongoing War May Not Be True” EurAsian Times, 15 Feb. 2023, https://eurasiantimes.com/well-over-100000-killed-why-us-claims-of-russian-soldiers-killed
6. “Major Russian Offensive Is Under Way in Ukraine, NATO Says” The Wall Street Journal, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/major-russian-offensive-is-under-way-in-ukraine-nato-says-6309cf7e
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8. “Washington Is Escalating Its Military Role In Ukraine. What Happens When Russia Reacts?” Forbes, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2023/02/13/washington-is-escalating-its-military-role-in-ukraine-what-happens-when-russia-reacts/