Russia is “in a period now of permanent mobilisation” as the “preliminary” waves of a major spring offensive get underway, military analysts have warned. Roughly 60,000 Russian soldiers have entered the battlefield since Vladimir Putin announced the mobilisation of 300,000 military reservists last September, with 170,000 more expected to arrive through the southern occupied territories of Ukraine in the immediate future as part of a “rolling offensive” intended to “shock the enemy” and reverse the momentum of the war. Military expert Professor Michael Clarke warned that Russia will now look to furtively mobilise around 600,000 troops annually, split into two waves, every year for the “indefinite future”.
Professor Clarke issued the troublesome prediction, suggesting that Russia is preparing for a protracted war by mobilising close to 600,000 soldiers every year “indefinitely”.
He said that “the Kremlin’s plan will be to keep fighting until the West gets fed up and pressures Kyiv into appeasing them with whatever territory they have taken by then”, continuing to send troops on a rolling basis.
He said they are carrying out mobilisation “quietly without declaring it” and that so long as Putin remains in power, “Russia will keep fighting in Ukraine”.
It is now imperative, he added, that Ukrainian forces show that “within the year” they can have significant success despite the offensive.
It comes after Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov last week, during a meeting with French President Emmanual Macron, suggested half a million Russian soldiers were to be mobilised imminently for the offensive.
Four months after Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilisation of 300,000 military reservists, the invading forces are poised to send nearly 200,000 soldiers to the frontlines imminently.
In the last week, Russian soldiers, bolstered by “elements of three divisions” of conventional forces, have made “marginal advances” in the fringes of the Luhansk region near the city of Kreminna.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former infantry battalion commanding officer who served for 30 years in the British Armed Forces, said this amounted to what was called “shaping operations” that could lead to a major offensive that “kills large numbers of Ukrainians”.
As Russian outfits in Donetsk engage in “encirclement operations” to take the city of Bakhmut and Vuhledar 60 miles southwest, the spring offensive, one that could prove “absolutely decisive” in changing the momentum of this war and “undermine Western support of Ukraine”, is beginning.
While, Professor Clarke said the offensive was likely to take the form of a “multi-pronged” attack targeting the Donbas and the land bridge in Zaporizhzhia in the south.
He said: “It would make sense if it was a multi-pronged offensive in order to stretch the Ukrainians in several different directions.
“We will see the Russians try to develop something quite large, pushing towards Kupyansk in the northeast Kharkiv region and getting over the broken ground from Bakhmut to take on the Ukrainian defensive forces surrounding the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.”
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He said they will also make offensive efforts “across the land bridge westwards of the Donbas towards Crimea and Kherson.”
Professor Clarke added: “That is the logical direction of an offensive to secure what they have been losing in the last three or four months before they decide what else they might do if they have still got momentum.”
Colonel Kemp warned that Russia was likely to be “fairly successful in these operations”, with Putin potentially poised to take “large swathes of ground and kill large numbers of Ukrainians”.
He explained that Ukraine has taken a “huge number of casualties” and is “running short of ammunition”, while Western tanks promised in January will not arrive for several months.
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He said: “I would say this war is now in the balance, but unfortunately I would say my judgment is that Russia is likely to be fairly successful in their operation.”
But he added that Ukrainian forces will “fight hard to resist”, and their counterpunch to the Russian offensive would prove “absolutely decisive” to continued support from the West.
He said: “I think the immediate impact of a Russian advance is to undermine Western support for Ukraine, which is a real danger.
“If Russia does take territory, Ukraine is going to have to find a way to counter attack and that is going to be much more difficult than it has been up to now.”
Professor Clarke reiterated these comments, highlighting that Ukraine must “show the West that they can change the rules of the game, not just keep on fighting to Russia’s agenda”.
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He said: “They must push southwards from Zaporizhzhia right down to the coast to split the Russian land bridge in two. Then they would be in a position to threaten Crimea.
“That’s when the Russians really do have something to worry about and defend. They could lose something very significant.”
He added that such a move would “cause all sorts of hysteria in the Kremlin” and could be the key to ending the war, as it would provide a “bargaining chip” to Ukraine that would force Russia to the negotiating table for fear of losing access to the Black Sea via the Crimean warm water port of Sevastopol.