Russia's military is preparing for heavy losses ahead in a new offensive, according to a source apparently stationed at a Russian military headquarters in Ukraine, Novaya Gazeta reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to send tens of thousands of men to war in Ukraine knowing very well that he is going to make them into "minced meat," the source said.
The source accused the Russian military of not taking any dangers of the offensive into account and predicted that the offensive would come at a massive cost.
The warning coincides with U.S. and other western officials warning that Russia is preparing to launch a new onslaught of offensive operations in the new year. Ukrainian intelligence has assessed that Putin has ordered the Russian commander of troops in Ukraine to seize all of Donbas by the end of this month.
Already, there are indications that Russia is in dire straits in its attempts to regroup and launch a new offensive, and aware that there may be some resistance to mobilization. British intelligence assessed last month that Putin is struggling to come up with new ways to mobilize more personnel to the front without causing domestic dissent over the war to grow. Putin ordered a mobilization of 300,000 last year and may be relying on more call-ups under those orders soon, the British intelligence assessment stated.
The goal of minimizing dissent appears to be bumping up against battlefield planning, though. The window of opportunity for Russia to make any gains in Ukraine is closing soon, the Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupshis, warned, adding that "even a blind man can see that they are preparing for the next wave of offensive" in an interview with Novaya Gazeta.
Russia will be less able to secure battlefield wins the longer it waits to launch its offensive, especially as more western nations work to crank up their military aid to Ukraine, Rupshis said in an interview with Guildhall published Friday.
Intel Reveals Putin's First Order for a Big War Rebound This Year
"The Russians understand that if they do not launch an offensive now, it will be too late by the end of spring," Rupshis said, warning that all signs point to Russia preparing for a new offensive.
Satellite imagery analysis shared exclusively with The Daily Beast in recent days shows Russia has been building up a layered network of fortifications in order to try to hold onto the eastern Ukrainian territory it has already gained in Donetsk and Luhansk. Some of the imagery suggests Russia might be trying to go on the offensive to gain more territory as well, analysts said.
Andriy Chernyak, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said this week that Ukrainian intelligence continues to assess that Russia wants to take all of the Donbas by March.
"We've observed that the Russian occupation forces are redeploying additional assault groups, units, weapons, and military equipment to the east," Cherniak told The Kyiv Post. In some ways Russia has already begun offensive campaigns in eastern Ukraine to that effect, Cherniak warned.
"Even today, we are already seeing such actions in the Luhansk and Donetsk directions," Cherniak said. "That is, the offensive is underway."
Ukraine's General Staff of the Armed Forces warned that Russia was continuing to conduct attacks throughout Ukraine Friday.
"There is a great danger of further Russian aviation and missile strikes across Ukraine," Ukraine's General Staff of the Armed Forces spokesperson said.
Already, Russia's military operations on the ground are not going well, though, according to Ukraine's military. Russia is running "offensive actions" in the Limansky, Bakhmutsky, Avdiiv, and Novopavlivsky directions, but is "suffering major losses in personnel and military equipment," the spokesperson said Friday in a brief. "The opponent continues to suffer losses."
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