Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday warned that Russia is amassing troops and that a major Russian offensive is coming.
“Now Russia is concentrating its forces. We all know that. It is preparing to try to take revenge, not only against Ukraine, but against a free Europe and the free world,” Zelensky said alongside European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who was in Kyiv ahead of an EU summit in the city.
A Russian winter offensive has been expected as Moscow has reinforced its positions since it mobilized 300,000 fresh troops. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov claimed that the Russian troop buildup consists of 500,000 troops.
“Officially, they announced 300,000, but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments, it is much more,” Reznikov told French media on Wednesday.
While Russia has yet to launch a major offensive, Russian and Ukrainian forces have continued to battle it out in the eastern Donbas region, mainly around the Donetsk city of Bakhmut.
Russian forces have been making gains around the city, and US and other Western officials have acknowledged that Ukraine has been taking heavy losses in the battle and that Russia will likely take the city.
Any future Russian offensive would likely focus on Donetsk, as Russian officials have made clear throughout the war that their priority is to “liberate” the Donbas. The region has been at war since 2014 when the US-backed ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych sparked a Ukrainian civil war.