VLADIMIR Putin is set to launch a “pre-emptive strike” on the West to mark the one year anniversary of his ruthless invasion, Ukraine has warned.
Satellite photos allegedly show Putin’s forces building up fortifications as Moscow prepares for a fresh offensive next month.
5A satellite image from earlier this month that shows Russia building new lines of defenceCredit: Sentinel Hub EO Browser5Mad Vlad is expected to launch a new offensive on February 24 to mark the anniversary of his bloody invasionCredit: APThe new Russian fortifications can be seen all along the front in Luhansk, from the Russian border down to Donetsk, and throughout Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, told Radio Svoboda: “Now they are preparing for maximum activation, and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements.
“There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say.”
The satellite imagery of Moscow’s new fortifications also show that Putin is concerned about a new Ukrainian counteroffensive – following the news of modern tanks being sent from the West.
The Russian military has also reportedly been scouting the defence capabilities of Ukrainian troops in the Zaporizhzhia region for a week.
Brady Africk, an intelligence analyst, told the Daily Beast: “They’re trying to basically consolidate their gains and keep the parts that they’ve held on to thus far.
“I think it’s definitely both a message to soldiers in Ukraine, and to everyone who might be watching, that they’re going to at least try and stay.”
Africk’s claims follow an intense battle between Ukrainian troops and Russian fighters that happened in Vugledar, the southern front of Donetsk, on January 27.
Both sides claimed success in the confrontation.
Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-appointed leader of the Donetsk region, said: “The encirclement and subsequent liberation of this city solves many problems.
“Soon, Vugledar may become a new, very important success for us.”
However, Kyiv were quick to dismiss the Kremlin’s claims.
Sergiy Cherevaty, a Ukrainian military spokesman, told local media. “There is fierce combat there.
“For many months, the military of the Russian Federation has been trying to achieve significant success there.”
Moscow’s push for Vugledar is part of its effort to seize control of the entire Donetsk region, which it has already declared a part of Russia.
The Ministry of Defence said Russia was highly likely to have suffered more than 300 casualties in a strike on troop accommodation at Makiivka near Donetsk City on January 1.
Russia’s defence ministry confirmed 89 soldiers died in the fiery blast.
According to a White House National Security Council assessment, Russia is using the cold winter months to regroup and prepare for next steps in the war.
The European Union’s defence chief said Russia is now engaged in “a war against Nato and the West” as Canada became the 12th country to commit tanks to Ukraine.
Stefano Sannino, the secretary general of the EU’s external action service, said Putin had moved beyond his initial “special military operation” and was transitioning into a different stage.
Poland also said it would give an additional 60 tanks to the 14 it has already committed to the war effort.
Spain and Norway are expected to announce how many Leopard 2s they will send to Ukraine in the coming days.
Belgium announced a new package of military aid, promising cash, missiles, machineguns and armoured vehicles.
Ukraine is also seeking Western fourth-generation fighter jets such as the US F-16.
Mr Sannino said Ukraine’s allies had been forced to increase and upgrade their military support to Kyiv in response to Moscow shifting the focus of the war to the West.
He said: “I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia has started moving the war into a different stage.”
5Ukrainian soldiers walk over rubble in a destroyed building after testing a drone in Kupiansk, UkraineCredit: Getty5A Ukrainian tank heading for DonetskCredit: Reuters5A woman walks near a residential building that was destroyed by a Russian missileCredit: Getty
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk