Russia planning

Russia: Rupert Jones on Putin’s next move

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Vladimir Putin is planning a “massive new attack” in just a week’s time to mark the first anniversary of the war, Ukraine’s top spy chiefs have warned. The stark message comes as he plans to mobilise up to half a million soldiers for the onslaught which could also include 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 400 fighter jets and 300 helicopters incoming from Russia.

Ukraine’s Secretary of the National Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, believes that this firepower could be unleashed on either February 23 or 24.

But he insists Ukraine is ready and will be able to cope.

Speaking to My-Ukraine TV channel, he said: “You and I started saying that they are preparing and will try to make another attempt at a massive attack on February 23-24.

“You need to be calm about this. We are ready for it.

“I think we already understand what attacks are, after receiving 115-120 rockets in one day.

“We will cope with this day as well. Yes, it will be difficult, but we will all get through.”

Nato intelligence says that Russia is losing as many as two thousand men for every 100 yards gained, so it is believed that Putin will now turn his attention to bombarding Ukraine from the air.

This could include using his multi-million pound aerial arsenal of fighter jets, bombers and attack helicopters to take out Ukrainian troops that are massing on the ground for a potential offensive.

A US official told The Times: “Russian land forces are quite thinned out, ragged and very demoralised, so the best indication is that they will try to switch to aerial combat.”

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has noted an increase in Russia’s fighter jet activity.

An intelligence update said: “Russian sortie rates have increased over the last week, following several weeks of quieter activity.

“Air activity is now roughly in line with the average daily rate seen since summer 2022.”

Danilov also said Putin may be trying to persuade Belarus’ leader Alexander Lukashenko to join in the fight against Ukraine.

He added: “The country of Belarus has long been occupied by the Russian Federation. This is a proven fact.

“Lukashenko does his best not to be forced to take an active, direct part for Belarus in the war against our people.

“I think that there will be another meeting on Friday when he will be forced to change his point of view.”

The Sun reports that Russia has warned it will “gain the world’s attention” on the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine invasion.

Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow plans to overshadow pro-Ukrainian events on the first anniversary of the war on February 24.

He didn’t go into details but said Russian diplomats are working on something to make sure events in the West are “not the only ones to gain the world’s attention”.

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It is believed that the Russian offensive will be on two fronts, pushing into the south and into the east in the Donbas.

Putin is desperate to gain control over the war after the invasion which he thought would see Ukraine submit in days has been going for almost a year.

Last February his forces stormed towards Kyiv but then came up against resistance he did not expect from the Ukrainians.

Ukraine then went on the counteroffensive and liberated huge parts of the country which had been captured by the Russians.

After the war slowed down over the winter there have been reports that Russians are beginning to make gains.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is also predicting that Russia could launch a major offensive to tie in with the one year anniversary of the invasion.

He said: “I think you should expect Russians to step up their indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas.

“They may try to do something on the ground, on the offensive.

“I suspect he will lash out and kill more innocent people.”


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