Russia may try to divert Ukrainian forces from the Donbas region by opening a new front, according to the New York Times.
Attacking from a new front would likely mean advancing from Russian territory itself toward the northeastern city of Sumy or the second-largest city of Ukraine Kharkiv, according to the New York Times.
However, the main focus of the Russian forces will likely remain on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where fierce fighting is currently underway around the cities of Bakhmut, Vuhledar, and Kreminna.
Ukrainian defenders repel Russian attacks on Bakhmut and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast. Recently, the Russian forces have renewed offensive operations in Luhansk Oblast (eastern Ukraine) trying to advance from occupied Kreminna toward Ukrainian-controlled Lyman, the New York Times reported.
Russia masses tens of thousands of soldiers, including conscripts from a mass mobilization last autumn, just outside the range of the precision missiles of multiple rocker launchers that Ukrainian forces use to hit Russian-controlled territories. The formations suggest they could be preparing to encircle Ukrainian forces arrayed across the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, according to the New York Times.
Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk told the New York Times he expected the Russian army to attempt the capture of the Donbas region in its entirety and then announce the completion of their “special military operation” and call for negotiations.
It will be the third attempt by Russia to capture the Donbas region since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022; the first two attempts failed, Zagorodnyuk added.
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