Putin could launch ‘major’ offensive early next year in brutal attack

Putin 'will be faced with a collapse' says General Sir Shirreff

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Vladimir Putin could redeploy Russian forces in a larger offensive in Ukraine as soon as January, President Zelensky’s Foreign Minister has warned. Citing military intelligence, Dmytro Kuleba suggested Russia could be preparing for a redoubled attack within the first few months of 2023. It comes as the Russian leader is desperately trying to beef up his troops amid heavy casulaties and repeated defeats on the front lines.

In a video briefing posted on the foreign ministry’s official YouTube channel, Mr Kuleba said: “I think the Russian ability to launch a major offensive will probably be restored sometime in late January or February. But that’s what they’re trying to do and we of course do everything possible to prevent it from happening.

“So, I am not saying for certain that this is happening. But in the best-case scenario, taking into account the mobilisation, the conscription that they announced, the training of new conscripts and the movement of their heavy weapons around the country—they definitely keep hopes that they will be able to break through our defences and advance deeper into Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian official repeated the army will do everything in its power to stop it, adding: “I firmy believe we will succeed, and they won’t be able to mvoe any further into Ukraine.” 

Fighting is raging on in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Ukrainian forces are making significant gains.

The exiled governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, told Ukrainian television that troops have struck headquarters used by the paramilitary group Wagner in the occupied city of Kadiivka, killing a “huge number” of Russian forces, including he mercenary group accused of torture and other war crimes.

He said: “They had a little pop there, just where Wagner headquarters was located.

“A huge number of those who were there have died.”

Further south in the southern province of Zaporizhia, Russians troops are reportedly “panicking and “redeploying” after a wave of Ukrainian attacks on the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol.

Russian forces “are busy moving their military groups to other places to try to hide them”, the city’s exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said, without evidence.

While Ukrainian forces appear to resist the latest Russian attacks, a Ukrainian general has warned that Russia has enough missiles to launch another “three to five waves of strikes”. 

In an interview with The New York Times, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said: “According to our calculations, they have missiles for another three to five waves of attacks. This is if there are 80 to 90 rockets in one wave”, adding Russia has been launching strikes from the Black Sea in the south, from the area around the Caspian Sea to the southeast, from Russia in the east and from Belarus to the north.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on Russia this week to start withdrawing its troops by Christmas as the first step towards a peace deal after nearly 10 months of war. But the Kremlin has rejected the offer, saying a Christmas ceasefire was not on the agenda. 

Asked whether Moscow had seen proposals for a “Christmas ceasefire,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “No, no such offers have been received from anybody. This topic is not on the agenda.”

Peskov said earlier on Tuesday that there would be no peace with Kyiv until Zelensky accepts the “reality” of Russian authority over four Ukrainian areas that Putin annexed in September after “referendums” that Kyiv, the West, and the majority of states at the UN denounced as coercive and illegitimate.

Ukrainian forces have shot down all 13 Iranian kamikaze drones targeting capital Kyiv in a barrage of missile attacks on the capital on Wednesday.

“The terrorists began this morning with 13 Shaheds. All 13 were shot down by Ukrainian air defence, according to preliminary information. Well done guys, I’m proud,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

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