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Ukraine Defence Minister: Russia Planning Huge Offensive To Mark War’s First Anniversary

Story Highlights
  • Zelenskiy wrote in another tweet, "The only way to stop Russian terrorism is to beat it. By tanks. Fighter jets. Long-range missiles."
  • "There was damage to at least eight apartment buildings. In a Facebook post, the police said, "One of them was completely destroyed.

Oleksii Reznikov, Russia’s defence minister, said that the country is planning a big offensive for February 24, which is the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

Reznikov told French media that Russia would send out a large number of mobilised troops if it went to war. Referring to Russia’s general mobilisation of 300,000 conscripted soldiers in September of last year, he said that the real number could be closer to 500,000 based on the numbers at the border.

“We do not underestimate our enemy,” Reznikov said. “Officially, they said 300,000, but based on how many troops we see at the borders, we think it’s much more.”

The Guardian couldn’t check these numbers on its own.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday night that Russian forces were trying to make gains they could show on the anniversary of their invasion in February. He also said that the situation in the eastern province of Donetsk was very bad.

“It is clear that the occupiers are doing more offensive things on the front in the east of our country. “Things are getting worse,” Zelenskiy said in a video message.

Reznikov said that the offensive would likely focus on two parts of the country: the east, where there has been a lot of fighting in the past few weeks, and the south.

“Since [Russia] is all about symbols, we think they will try something around February 24.”

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, also said last week that Russia was planning a wave of offensives to mark the anniversary of the 24 February invasion.

He said that Russian troops were told to go “beyond the borders” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east.

The Donbas is made up of the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. It is a border area with Russia that President Vladimir Putin has wanted to take over since the war started.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, says that Russian forces are kicking out people who live near the parts of the front line that Russia controls so that they can’t tell Ukrainian artillery forces about troop movements.

Haidai said, “Russian troops are being sent to the area, and they are definitely getting ready for something on the eastern front in February.”

The defence minister of Ukraine was in France to meet with President Emmanuel Macron and make sure that air defence radars would be bought. He was also trying to get European countries to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, which French President Emmanuel Macron said was still a possibility.

Reznikov told French media, “We tell our partners that we must also be ready as soon as possible.” “This is why we need weapons to keep the enemy in check.”

Intelligence experts and analysts have said for a long time that Russia is likely to start a new offensive before spring. A lot of the fighting in the country’s east has been stuck in a stalemate for a long time. Both sides have reportedly lost a lot of people as they get used to their positions.

Late on Wednesday, at least three people were killed when a Russian missile hit a residential building in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.

“There was damage to at least eight apartment buildings. In a Facebook post, the police said, “One of them was completely destroyed.” “There may still be people under the rubble.”

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the region, posted a photo that seemed to show a four-story building in Kramatorsk that had been badly damaged.

After the attack, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram, “This is not a repeat of the past. This is the daily reality of our country, a country with absolute evil on its borders.”

Zelenskiy wrote in another tweet, “The only way to stop Russian terrorism is to beat it. By tanks. Fighter jets. Long-range missiles.”

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