Day 348: Putin to begin renewed offensive before February 16?

Ukraine conveys condolences to Türkiye and Syria following the deadly earthquakes that killed thousands and left thousands more without shelter. President Zelenskyi reiterated his condolences to President Erdogan and offered to send help to Türkiye if needed. 

Putin to begin renewed offensive before February 16?

A renewed large-scale Russian offensive is expected to come within 10 days, and before modern western tanks and other weaponry recently pledged arrives to reinforce Ukraine’s capabilities, according to an article by the Financial Times. An adviser to the Ukrainian military told the Financial Times that Kyiv had obtained “very solid intelligence of intent” by Russia to launch the attack, adding that it could come within 10 days.

Western analysts think a likely point for a fresh Russian attack is in the west of Luhansk region near Kreminna and Lyman where Russia has been assembling forces for weeks. Putin gave the order to seize all of the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by March. 

Russia will not try to seize all of Ukraine at once in a possible offensive in February, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda. Instead, Russia is concentrating forces on a number of axes, he added. “Russia has shifted its tactics to concentrate forces around attempts to seize small parts of the land — to crawl ahead by capturing ten meters each time and push [the Ukrainian troops] out,” Reznikov said. The risks of Russia’s renewed offensive are highest in the east and south. Then come the risks in the north, the Defense Minister said. Yet “there are no grounds to panic and flee the cities,” he reassured. There remains a threat of Russian missile and drone strikes, he added, but Ukraine is bolstering its air defense capabilities.   

Russia has concentrated most of its forces in Ukraine’s east and south, Reznikov said. It is unlikely that the Russian forces will attempt to capture Kherson again, after they blew up the bridges and pontoon crossings as they retreated from the city. They can begin the moves on the Zaporizhzhia axis to “widen the land corridor to Crimea to connect the supply lines”. 

The Russian forces could launch a renewed offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and on the Zaporizhzhia axis, according to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. “In Kherson region and Crimea, the Russian forces will conduct defense,” Ukraine’s military intelligence said.

Russians being prepared to accept high casualties in Ukraine war

Russia seeks to regain the initiative in the war after suffering military defeats in the past year. Last week, fighting intensified, especially on the Donetsk axis.

“Russia wants revenge, revenge exactly where it didn’t succeed. They want to take the east. Our task is not to give them this chance until our army is strengthened with necessary weapons,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said in a news conference after the EU-Ukraine summit last week.

“The enemy is at a point when, while Russia’s strategic defeat is clear, at the tactical level, they still have resources to attempt an offensive,” Zelenskyi said.

Russia could deploy half of more than 320,000 draftees to escalate the war. Yet the overall number of the Russian troops on the borders [of Ukraine] is way higher and can reach 500,000, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

Russia will most likely focus on occupying more territory on the Donetsk axis. Putin had ordered his armed forces to capture all of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by March, according to Ukraine’s defense intelligence. 

The Russian forces are attempting to distract the Ukrainian troops by drawing some of the units away to the north-east of Ukraine’s border, expanding the area of an offensive. 

Podcast Explaining Ukraine. Living near the Russian border: what does this mean?

Northeastern Ukraine, one of the most vulnerable areas of the country, is very close to the border with Russia. How did this region get through the Russian invasion one year ago, and how is it living now? We went to the borderlands of Sumy Oblast, in northeastern Ukraine, just a few dozen kilometers from the Russian border, to learn more. Hosts: Volodymyr Yermolenko, Ukrainian philosopher and journalist, chief editor of, and Tetyana Ogarkova, Ukrainian scholar and journalist, head of international outreach at the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre.

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