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Ukraine prepares for 'battle for Donbas' where Russian forces 'could triple' in number

Russia has shifted its firepower to the southeast of Ukraine, in a new phase in the war. This could lead to up three times the number of Russian troops in Donbas.

After defeating a Russian attempt at storming the capital Kyiv, the Ukrainian military must now shift their attention to strengthening the southern and eastern flanks.

Many units are believed to be already redeploying eastwards around the Kyiv region, preparing for the so-called “battle of Donbas”.

It is unclear when exactly the new offensive will begin. Sources in the West and Ukraine expect it to start immediately – possibly as soon as this weekend, although others believe it could take Russia longer to be ready.


A Western official stated Monday that the Russians would have to re-equip, refurbish and incorporate new personnel to prepare for their fresh attack.

I don’t know when they will do it. It will probably take some time.”

Image During a visit to Borodyanka on 6 April, Denis Monastyrsky, minister of inner affairs, stated that Borodyanka was one the ‘biggest tragedies of Ukraine’

The critical Supply of weapons by Western allies is all the more important

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The next phase of the war will present a greater challenge to the Ukrainian Armed Forces than the one they have endured in the last seven weeks.

This is especially true if the Russian side can overcome logistical difficulties and draw on its superior numbers tanks and artillery.

If the Ukrainian armed forces want to defeat the second wave, this makes it more important for them to have access to lethal weapons from their Western allies.

“It is true to say that Ukraine won in the battle for Kyiv. Dmytro Kuleba (Ukraine’s foreign minister) said that another battle was coming, the battle to conquer Donbas.

“And, of course we are preparing to do it, working together with our partners to obtain all the necessary weapons and basically everything one needs to win an battle.”

The wish list includes items such as tanks, warplanes and anti-ship missiles. Also included are “suicide drones”, single-use drones armed with explosives that can crash into Russian tanks and air defense systems.

Image Two couples hug as they walk past a building badly damaged by shelling in Kharkiv

Russia seeks a ‘win” by 9 May?

Russian President Vladimir Putin might be hoping to present his people with some sort of win in Ukraine by May 9th. This date is known as Victory Day in Russia, which marks the surrender of Nazi Germany at end of Second World War. The annual parade of large numbers through Red Square in Moscow is a way to commemorate it.

Officials from the West are unsure that Russia’s troops, which have suffered major losses in personnel, equipment, and morale, will be able secure meaningful gains in such a short time, given the difficulties they have faced.

A Western official stated Monday that the execution of Russia’s plan was a failure and that they have to reassess their plans.

“The strategy is being modified and reduced significantly from the original point.”

Image The graves of civilians who were killed in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia are visible next to apartments in Mariupol , the southern port of Mariupol

Kremlin names a new general to head operation in Ukraine

However, it is possible that the Russian forces will have learned from their mistakes in the Battle for Kyiv and will be readjusting.

Moscow has reportedly appointed a new general with a reputation of brutality to lead the operation against Ukraine. This signals a new effort to better coordinate Russia’s attack-plan.

Most recently, General Alexander Dvornikov led Russian forces in Syria. They waged a brutal campaign against civilians to support the Syrian troops under dictator Bashar al-Assad. During that time, Syrian forces used chemical weapons.

Another Western official stated that Russia would likely increase its use of soldiers to attack the Donbass region.

It includes the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which Moscow declared independent shortly before it launched its invasion of Donetsk on 24 February. This area has been a war zone for eight years, as Russia-backed separatists fought Ukrainian government troops but not on the same scale as what is expected.

“It’s about how you can bring force to bear”

The Western official stated that the force is likely to be doubled or tripled by the Russians.

“But I should point out that it will take some time for them to reach that level and that even then, there is still the question of how effective they can bring their forces into battle… It is about how you can bring that force to bear at decision’s end which is really important.”

However, the more difficult the battle, the higher the likelihood that Russian forces will resort to unconventional tactics, such as chemical weapons deployment.

This may be why the UK was quick to state on Monday night that they were working with partners to verify details after unconfirmed reports that a chemical agent might have been used in Mariupol’s southern port city.

Allies of NATO and the UK have stated that Russian use of banned chemical weapons would alter the nature of the conflict. This would require a new response by the alliance and each member state.


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