Russian invasion of Ukraine could enter new phase this weekend, officials fear
Senior US defence officials fear Russia may launch their next phase in the Ukraine invasion could begin this weekend.
Two experts believe Russia may start moving forces back into Ukraine within the next couple of days, after retreating from Kyiv within the last two weeks.
The new offensive could begin before Russian troops have had a chance to regroup, NBC News reports.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has previously warned of a new offensive approaching, telling reporters: "Ukraine won the battle for Kyiv. Now, another battle is coming: the battle for Donbas.”
It is predicted that Russian troops will try and encircle Ukrainian forces between Donbas and the rest of the country, a senior defence official said.
Earlier this week it was reported that Putin's forces have already started moving weapons and equipment into western Russia, ready for the battle.
Meanwhile, Ukraine remains desperate for weapons – with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offering cargo planes to Western allies to assist them in sending supplies over.
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He said he had been frustrated by Western leaders asking repetitive questions about what weapons were needed.
Zelenskyy told The Atlantic: "You have it and here it is; we know where it is stored. Can you give it to us?
"We need armoured vehicles, for example. And not one per day. We need 200 to 300 per day. These aren't personal taxis, just for me; our soldiers need transport.
"Flights are available, the whole thing can be organized, we can do all the logistics."
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A new offensive could signal a redefinition in Russia's war aims, with Putin's sights now set on only conquering the eastern provinces rather than Ukraine as a whole.
This would put Ukrainian forces in the eastern parts of the country in greater danger of being overwhelmed.
Donbas has seen fighting on and off since 2014, with more than 13,000 people killed so-far.
Putin has repeatedly falsely claimed that Kyiv is committing genocide against the Russian-speaking population in the region as a reason behind his invasion of Ukraine.
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