Russia is building a new 200,000-man army for a second attack on Kyiv that could begin in weeks, Ukraine’s top general has warned.
Valery Zaluzhny, head of the Ukrainian armed forces, believes that Vladimir Putin is turning his newly mobilized men into armies somewhere inside Russia that he will launch in new attacks against Ukraine.
When Putin first invaded Ukraine in February, he did so with a force of some 175,000 men. If General Zaluzhny is right, any even bigger army is already on the way.
‘[Russia] is preparing new resources… 100 percent’, said The Economist. ‘[We must] get ready for the [new] war that can start in February, at best in March and at worst at the end of January.
Russia is building a new 200,000-strong army and will use it to try to capture Kyiv a second time (Putin’s original army before he invaded in February pictured)
Russia’s original attempt to take the Ukrainian capital ended in failure when its army was bogged down and blown to bits by Ukrainian artillery (pictured)
‘It may not start in Donbas, but towards Kyiv, from Belarus, I do not rule out the south direction [Crimea] also. The Russians are preparing some 200,000 fresh soldiers. I have no doubt that they will have another chance in Kyiv.
General Zaluzhny called on Ukraine’s western allies to increase arms supplies to prevent these attacks from succeeding, saying it urgently needs hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery guns.
“I know that I can beat this enemy,” he said. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFVs [infantry fighting vehicles]500 howitzers.
‘So, I think it’s completely realistic [re-take all territory captured since the war began.] I get what I get, but it’s less than I need.’
He stressed that while Russia’s newly mobilized army will be of a similar size to the one that attacked in February, it will not be of the same quality.
Much of its best equipment and ammunition has been used up, and most of its highly-skilled soldiers and commanders have died.
But, General Zaluzhny said, there is no sign that Moscow is willing to give up its mission to take over his country and he expects his Russian counterparts to keep fighting until their resources are exhausted.
Ukraine needs tanks, armored vehicles and artillery guns to repel Russian attacks and push them back, its commander said (Pictured, Ukrainian soldiers carry a body)
A Russian soldier is shown taking part in training as Ukraine’s top general warns that a new army is being prepared to take part in the fighting.
Asked how many men Russia could spend on the fight, he said the country has up to 1.5 million men in its reserves.
As for Ukraine, he insists that Kyiv is working on its own “big operation,” adding cryptically that “it’s on its way, but you don’t see it yet.”
General Zaluzhny also called for better air defenses for Ukraine, amid reports that Joe Biden is preparing to cede Patriot missile batteries to Kyiv.
If the move goes ahead, it would place Ukraine among an elite group of countries that run Patriot batteries, which are among the best air defenses in the world.
Kyiv is desperately trying to protect its power grid from Russian missile and drone attacks that have caused blackouts across the country, meaning people will freeze in their homes.
Between a third and a half of the country’s power grid is now out of service, with the rest now extremely vulnerable to attack.
Putin’s generals moved on to attack the power grid after their ground assault stalled and then reversed in places.
First, the assault on Kyiv from Belarus was thwarted and dismissed, before Putin’s armies were halted in the Donbas.
Ukraine then retook a strip of territory around the northeastern city of Kharkiv and liberated the southern city of Kherson.
Now, the front line has largely settled down and no major changes are expected for at least the next few weeks as both sides regroup and plan their next move.
Despite the small territory changing hands, fighting remains fierce, particularly around the eastern city of Bakhmut.
General Zaluzhny believes that 300 tanks, 600 armored vehicles and 500 artillery guns would allow him to push Russia back to its pre-invasion borders.
Russian troops are being launched into frontal attacks on Ukrainian trenches and machine gun nests, with heavy casualties on both sides.
General Zaluzhny believes the attacks are designed to fix Ukrainian units in place and bleed them of men, so they cannot regroup before whatever comes next.
Separately today, Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said that Russia is preparing for a long war and still wants to conquer the whole of Ukraine.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, at the same briefing, warned against allowing complacency to set in after recent Russian military setbacks.
“The Kremlin… is trying to turn the conflict into a protracted armed confrontation,” Gromov said.
Malyar added: “We and the world must not relax, because the ultimate goal of the Russian Federation is to conquer all of Ukraine, and then it can move on.”
Ukrainian officials have portrayed the Kremlin as desperate to reverse recent military setbacks, which included a withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson after months of occupation, and secure victories to justify the war to the Russian public.
The Kremlin never fully defined the goals of its February 24 invasion, which it said was partly intended to protect Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine.
He said last week that he was still determined to secure at least most of the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine that he declared his own, but appeared to give up taking other areas in the west and northeast that Ukraine recaptured.
Ukraine’s military personnel said that Moscow’s current main focus was on the eastern cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, but that Russian forces were shelling Kherson daily and trying to gain a foothold in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia.
Vladimir Putin has suffered a series of embarrassing defeats in Ukraine, but Kyiv says he sees no sign that he is about to abandon attempts to take over the country.
“They understand that if they don’t stretch the front now, this winter will be a disaster for them,” said Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s presidential office.
Russia, which has also been attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, has ruled out a Christmas ceasefire. Gromov also ruled out the possibility of a ceasefire over the New Year festive period.
“There will be a complete ceasefire only when there is not a single occupant left on our land,” he said.
Gromov said that since mid-October Russia has been increasing its military presence in Belarus, where it is training new units and restoring the combat capability of old units, and has redeployed military aircraft on its ally’s territory.
“First of all, this indicates that the enemy is increasing the chances of launching air strikes on the territory of Ukraine,” he said, but added that the probability of a Russian strike from Belarus “remains low.”