According to US and Western sources cited by CNN, even though Russia has turned its attention in recent days to southern and eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not given up on capturing Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv.
Officials expect Russian forces to reinforce and reposition in the coming weeks in preparation for a violent new attack in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday.
“They will be rearmed because they’ve used a lot of ammunition, and they will be resupplied with fuel and all the things they need, food and so on, to launch a new big offensive,” Stoltenberg said.
Despite the recent shift in strategy and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine peace talks, the US and its allies are bracing for the possibility that Putin will try to re-invade Kyiv once he has completed his objectives in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, assuming he has enough manpower and equipment to do so, US and European officials say.
According to a senior US defense official, it is still unclear what Putin’s long-term ambitions are.
“In order to protect any territory it seizes in the east, we expect that Russia could potentially extend its force projection and presence even deeper into Ukraine, beyond Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. At least that is their intention and their plan,” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.