KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine expects a possible major Russian offensive this month, but Kyiv has the reserves to hold back Moscow’s forces even though the latest Western military supplies will not all arrive in time, Ukraine’s defence minister said on Sunday.
Russia could launch the new attack for “symbolic” reasons around the first anniversary of its invasion, but its resources are not ready from a military point of view, the minister, Oleksii Reznikov, told a news conference.
“Despite everything, we expect a possible Russian offensive in February. This is only from the point of view of symbolism; it’s not logical from a military view. Because not all of their resources are ready. But they’re doing it anyway,” he said.
Russian forces have been making incremental advances in the east as Moscow tries to capture the embattled city of Bakhmut and revive its faltering invasion after a string of battlefield setbacks in the second half of last year.
Reznikov said the offensive would likely be launched in the east – where Russia is trying to capture all the heavily-industrialised Donbas region – or the south where it wants to widen its land corridor to the occupied peninsula of Crimea.
He estimated that Russia had 12,000 troops in Belarusian military bases, a number that would not be enough to launch a significant attack from Belarus into Ukraine’s north, reopening a new front.
The United States and other Western governments have pledged billions of dollars in new military assistance including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to help Ukraine withstand a new attack as well as to help Kyiv launch a counteroffensive.
“Not all of the Western weaponry will arrive in time. But we are ready. We have created our resources and reserves, which we are able to deploy and with which we are able to hold back the attack,” Reznikov said.