NATO chief says military buildup shows Russian offensive has already begun – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said a new major Russian offensive in Ukraine had already begun.

Speaking to reporters on February 13 in Brussels, Stoltenberg called The Western military alliance sees “no signs at all” that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for peace.

“We see that President Putin and Russia still want to control Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. “We see them sending more troops, more weapons, more skills.”

Kyiv anticipates a much broader offensive that could target not only the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Luhansk to the east, but also the Kharkiv region to the northeast and Zaporizhia to the southeast.

“The reality is we’ve seen the beginning [of a Russian offensive] just because we see now what Russia is doing now – President Putin is doing it now – is sending in thousands and thousands more troops at a very high casualty rate,” Stoltenberg said.

Russian forces have been engaged in an offensive in eastern Ukraine for months as they attempt to seize strategically important towns and cities, including the battered town of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, which came under heavy artillery fire on February 13.

British Secret Service called on February 13 that despite the current operational focus on the central Donbas, Russia remains concerned about guarding the “extremes of its extensive front line,” which it said is about 1,288 kilometers long.

It said Russian forces continued to build defenses in the Zaporizhia and Luhansk regions, including deploying personnel.

British intelligence also estimated that Russia has been suffering the loss of hundreds of troops a day over the past week. On February 13, it was said that Ukrainian forces had killed 824 Russian invaders every day last week, four times more than in June and July.

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British analysts based the figure on the daily reports from the Ukrainian general staff, but the intelligence report stressed that it could not verify the calculation method used to produce the estimate. However, they noted that the numbers reflect trends on the front lines.

The UN human rights office said on February 13 it had killed 7,199 civilians and wounded 11,756 since the Russian invasion began nearly a year ago. Most of the dead and injured are due to shelling, missile and air strikes on Ukrainian cities and towns.

On February 11, Russia said it had launched a “massive attack” using missiles and drones on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and blocked rail and land routes used to deliver Western arms to Ukrainian forces.

The attacks came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned after a surprise tour of European capitals, where he lobbied for additional heavy weapons, including long-range missiles and warplanes, to defend Ukraine and retake lost territory.

Stoltenberg said on February 13 that Ukraine was using far more ammunition than the NATO countries are providing and urged them to “ramp up production.”

“The current rate of ammunition expenditure of Ukraine is several times higher than our current production rate. This puts pressure on our defense industry,” he said.

Stoltenberg also said the controversial issue of supplying modern warplanes to Ukraine would be discussed at a meeting of Kiev’s western supporters on February 14 in Brussels.

Valeriy Zaluzhniy, the Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, called On the eve of the meeting, he held a phone call with NATO Commander-in-Chief in Europe Christopher Cavoli.

“We discussed the issue of supplying international military aid to Ukraine and training our units on the territory of partner countries. He shared assessments of the operational situation on the front lines of the Russo-Ukrainian war and plans for further actions,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Zaluzhniy expressed gratitude for Cavoli’s “deep understanding of the situation and his significant efforts to bring our victory closer,” the statement added.

Western countries have already agreed to supply a limited number of modern main battle tanks, including the German-made Leopard 2, at Ukraine’s request, and have continued to supply artillery, combat vehicles and other weapons and ammunition.

Germany has started training the Ukrainian military on its Leopard 2 tanks, a government spokesman said in Berlin. The training should end by the end of March, when Germany should hand over the tanks to Ukraine, the spokesman said.

Training of Ukrainians on German-made Leopard 2 tanks has also begun in Poland.

Polish President Andrzej Duda called Experienced soldiers determined to defend Ukraine are taking part in the training, according to a Defense Ministry statement.