Vladimir Putin discusses ‘Nazism in its modern guise’
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Russia is building up its forces in eastern Ukraine in advance of a ”likely” new military offensive, defence experts have warned. However, open-source intelligence has downplayed the possibility of Vladimir Putin launching a push to coincide with the first anniversary of his country’s invasion, suggesting if he does it would be unlikely to succeed.
Putin sent troops into Ukraine, in what he insists on describing as a “special operation” rather than a war, on February 24, 2022.
However, since then they have encountered fierce resistance, notably when Ukraine recaptured the key strategic city of Kherson in November.
Speculation has been building that Putin will green-light a fresh offensive this spring, possibly timing it to coincide with the anniversary,
A Janes OSINT Force Monitoring analyst said: “Janes in the last few days has seen evidence of a new concentration of forces in the rear area of Svatove, which appears to be part of a larger buildup of Russian capabilities in northern Luhansk over the last two weeks.
“The buildup in forces includes fire support, manoeuvre, and enabling assets.”
However, Janes has not yet observed an increase in Russian “shaping activity,” which would be expected ahead of any large offensive land operation, they pointed out.
The analyst added: “Therefore, while Janes assesses that an escalation in Russian offensive operations is likely in short to medium term, it is not imminent in the next few days.
“Any new large-scale offensive is highly likely to be preceded by such shaping operations (for example increased artillery attacks) or it would be unlikely to achieve any sort of breakthrough.
“Meanwhile, small offensive actions are ongoing in this region and should not be seen as presaging any large offensive.”
They continued: “Janes assesses that these smaller tactical actions are intended to prevent Ukrainian forces from putting the P-66/T-312 under fire control in the north while also expanding Russia’s security buffer around Kreminna in the south.”
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s Defence Minister, yesterday claimed Putin was eyeing February 24 as a possible date to “try something”.
Such a move would also mark Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day the day before, which celebrates the army, he pointed out.
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He said: “We think that, given that [Russia] lives in symbolism, they will try to try something around February 24.”
Mr Reznikov also claimed, without providing evidence, that as many as half a million troops may have been mobilised by Moscow.
He added: “We do not underestimate our enemy. Officially, they announced 300,000, but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments it is much more.”
In a video address on Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “A definite increase has been noted in the offensive operations of the occupiers on the front in the east of our country.
“The situation has become tougher.”
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