Ukraine is expecting a possible major Russian offensive launched for “symbolic” reasons around the anniversary of its invasion later this month, the country’s defence minister has said.
Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine has the reserves to hold back Moscow’s forces even though not all of the latest Western military supplies will have arrived in time for the expected Russian attack.
“Despite everything, we expect a possible Russian offensive in February,” he said.
“This is only from the point of view of symbolism; it’s not logical from a military view. Because not all of their resources are ready. But they’re doing it anyway.”
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Russian forces have made incremental gains in the east as Moscow tries to seize the city of Bakhmut following a string of battlefield setbacks in the second half of last year.
Mr Reznikov warned the offensive would likely be launched in the east, where Russia is trying to capture all of the heavily-industrialised Donbas region, or the south, where it wants to widen its land corridor to the occupied peninsula of Crimea.
He estimated Russia had 12,000 troops in Belarusian military bases – which he said would not be enough to launch a significant attack from Belarus into Ukraine’s north.
‘We are ready’
“Not all of the Western weaponry will arrive in time. But we are ready,” Mr Reznikov said.
“We have created our resources and reserves, which we are able to deploy and with which we are able to hold back the
Yesterday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation on the front lines in the east of the country was getting “very difficult”, with Russia throwing more and more troops into battle.
It comes as Russia’s defence ministry accused Kyiv of preparing to blow up buildings in Ukraine and then accuse Moscow of carrying out war crimes and targeting civilians in a false flag operation.
Russia provided no evidence for its claims in a post on social media which said the alleged attacks in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk would be used by Kyiv to push for Western governments to increase weapons supplies to the country.
A Russian missile strike killed at least three people when it struck a residential building in the city on Thursday, police in Ukraine said.
Moscow has not publicly commented on the strike, but has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.