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Ukraine warns Russia to mass 500,000 troops on border for offensive

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Ukraine warns Russia

Ukraine is warning that Moscow is gathering hundreds of thousands of troops on the border for a massive new offensive, just weeks before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent a clear message to the West on Thursday when he predicted that the Kremlin would build up its forces for “revenge”.

“Now Russia is concentrating its forces. We all know that. It is preparing to try to take revenge, not only against Ukraine, but against a free Europe and the free world,” Zelensky told a conference of press alongside EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, as Agence France-Presse reported.

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Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told French media on Wednesday that Russia had 500,000 troops ready for an attack coming in a few weeks. This number is well above the 300,000 newly enlisted troops that Russian President Vladimir Putin called up last fall.

“Officially they announced 300,000, but when you see the troops on the borders, according to our assessments, it’s much more,” Reznikov said.

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And a senior Ukrainian Defense Ministry official, Yuriy Sak, told NBC News on Thursday that officials fear Moscow’s military is preparing for an imminent assault aimed at turning the war in favor of the Kremlin.

“We must understand that the threat of a new and another offensive will remain until we defeat Russia,” Sak said.

Western and Ukrainian officials have long warned that Russia is planning a fresh spring offensive after a string of embarrassing defeats last summer and fall and a near stalemate over the winter.

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But warnings are mounting ahead of the first anniversary of the war on February 24.

Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, tweeted Thursday he had spoken with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley about a new Kremlin offensive.

Russian forces, which have made significant progress around the eastern town of Bakhmut over the past two weeks – their biggest gain in the war since the summer – are finally looking to take the town and overtake further gains for more. greatest victories on the battlefield.

Moscow hopes that the hundreds of thousands of reservists and new conscripts it called up in the fall will enable it to replenish military units depleted last year.

Moving the timeline forward is a small gap between newly promised Western combat vehicles and tanks and when Ukraine will actually take possession of the weapons, experts predict

The United States and Germany agreed last month to send tanks to Kyiv forces, including 31 M1 Abrams tanks from Washington.

Zelenskyy, in his overnight video address, warned that Ukrainian defense officials will have to make tough choices as the battle for Bakhmut continues to escalate, saying the situation “has become more difficult” in the region.

“The enemy is trying to achieve at least something now to show that Russia has a chance on the anniversary of the invasion,” he said.

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