Intel Reveals Putin’s First Order for a Big War Rebound This Year


Russian President Vladimir Putin is ordering Russian forces to seize the Donbas in eastern Ukraine by March, according to Andrei Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense.

“Still, we can talk about the priority direction for the Rashists—this is the Donbas,” Yusov said Tuesday. “This is the goal of capturing Donbas and the formation of a certain security zone there, already before March.”

The alleged orders come just days after Putin called on Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who previously led Russia’s forces in Ukraine in the early days of the war last year, and promoted him to command Russia’s troops once again. The decision has raised questions about whether Putin is interested in standing up a new offensive operation.

Ukrainian intelligence, however, is not confident that Russia will be successful in seizing the Donbas by March, given that the Kremlin’s armed forces have failed to complete what was supposed to be a quick takeover campaign last February.

“These are not the first dates. Each time these deadlines were postponed. It has been a year since the beginning of a full-scale invasion, and a year since they ‘take Kyiv for three days,’” Yusov said. “Nothing will work this time.”

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The Kremlin has dodged questions about the Donbas orders in recent days. When asked to comment on the reports of the new aims, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov demurred.

“No, I cannot [comment on it] and have zero intention of doing it,” Peskov said, according to TASS.

Ukrainian authorities, including Ukrainian President Zelensky himself, have been suggesting that Moscow may be willing to launch a new assault in the new year to try to seize any initiative it can after a series of routs on the battlefield. Following months of logistics and morale problems among Russian forces, Ukraine launched numerous counteroffensives last year, forcing Russia out of territories in south and northeast Ukraine, including in Kherson.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has begun recognizing that the war may be about to enter a new phase. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the war was entering a decisive time, urging NATO Allies to send more weaponry to Ukraine to help secure a victory against Russia.

“We are in a crucial phase of the war,” Stoltenberg told German outlet Handelsblatt. “It is therefore important that we provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to win.”

In the intervening days, Russia has continued its attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, according to a Tuesday briefing from Ukraine’s military. Just this weekend, Russian attacks rained down on an apartment complex in Dnipro, killing 44 people, according to the Mayor of Dnipro, Borys Filatov.

“Having no significant achievements in the battlefield, the opponent strikes peaceful settlements,” Spokesman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Andriy Kovalev said. “The Russian aggressor continues to destroy infrastructure and civilian homes.”

Russia has recently claimed that it is making gains in Soledar, where fierce fighting has taken hold. But despite moments of apparent success, Russia’s war effort has been riddled with infighting; Russia’s military claimed victory in Soledar, only to be contradicted by fighters from the mercenary group the Wagner Group, which has accused Russia’s government of taking credit for Wagner’s work in Soledar.

And although Russia has already staked its claim on Soledar, reports indicate Ukrainians are still fighting, RFE/RL reported.

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