The war in Ukraine is heating up as the Russians prepare a new offensive against Ukraine, and NATO nations pledge ever more advanced weaponry to Ukraine to fight back. Michael Weiss and James Rushton report for Yahoo!News:
“We are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks,” Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Thursday on a visit to Volgograd, where he commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Red Army’s World War II victory over Nazi forces in Stalingrad.
As he so often has in the past year, Putin made a direct comparison between his attempted conquest of Ukraine and what Russians refer to as the Great Patriotic War. “Again and again we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West,” he said.
Also in characteristic fashion, Putin got his facts wrong. The Nazis never operated a tank named after the leopard during World War II. As for the “collective West,” no mention was made of Joseph Stalin’s invasion of Poland 16 days after Adolf Hitler’s, as per their mutually agreed carve-up of Eastern Europe, which culminated in a joint victory parade between German and Soviet armies in Brest-Litovsk on Sept. 22, 1939.
Putin’s revisionist history comes as Russia is said to be prepping for a massive offensive in Ukraine, possibly to coincide with the one-year anniversary of its Feb. 24 invasion.
“I think that Russia really wants some kind of big revanche. I think it has started it. And I think that they will not be able to provide their society with any convincing positive result in the offensive,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a Friday press conference in Odesa with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has suggested that the Kremlin may be deploying as many as half a million soldiers for the effort, more than twice the original number fielded a year ago to mount the initial invasion. One unnamed source in the Russian military interviewed by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta confirmed that a massive push is in the offing, although the source seemed skeptical that it would be successful. Russian generals, the source said, had no compunction about turning tens of thousands of their own men into “mincemeat.” The Ukrainians, moreover, “get absolutely accurate information about all of our movements from Western intelligence agencies.”
Last month, Russia reshuffled its war leadership, appointing Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, the overall commander of forces in Ukraine, and demoting his predecessor, Gen. Sergey Surovikin to one of three deputies. The British Defense Ministry called this move “an indicator of the increasing seriousness of the situation Russia is facing, and a clear acknowledgement that the campaign is falling short of Russia’s strategic goals.” Gerasimov, along with the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, has been serially assailed by Russian hawks and ultra-nationalists for the military’s poor performance in Ukraine so far. He is therefore thought to be under enormous political pressure to deliver some kind of tangible victory for Putin in the short term.
But for all the talk of an impending massive attack, there’s little visual evidence of one. Recent satellite footage does not show any new major buildup of Russians soldiers and materiel along either the Russian or Belarusian borders. What this suggests is that Moscow may simply be funneling newly mobilized soldiers into existing fronts, with no provision of the additional armor and artillery necessary for combined arms warfare. In other words, raw meat for the grinder.
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