Russia Prepares Major Ground Offensive In Eastern Ukraine
Russia is conducting a “shaping operation” in preparation for a major ground offensive as it focuses its war efforts in eastern Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.
“They’re setting the conditions for what they want to conduct in the Donbas region on the ground and in the air,” the official said. “They are setting the conditions for what we believe will be a heavier offensive in the Donbas region.”
The defense official said Russians are bringing in artillery units, command and control “enablers,” as well as aviation support.
Defense officials say they have seen helicopters being flown into the northern part of the Donbas region during the past 24 hours.
“They’re doing the things that we believe that they believe they need to do to set the proper conditions for a renewed ground offensive,” the senior defense official added.
The official also said that western security groups have not seen a great influx of additional troops or tactical groups move into the region, despite previous warnings that Russia may be looking to add as many as 60,000 more troops to its ranks.
Russia has maintained roughly 80% of its fighting force since the beginning of its invasion and has largely removed its troops from western and central Ukraine as it concentrates on the eastern front.