It Looks Like Russia’s Long-Feared New Offensive in Ukraine Has Finally Begun

  • Russia’s threats of a renewed assault on Ukraine are already coming to pass, a military chief said.
  • Multiple reports indicate a flurry of Russian attacks along the front line in eastern Ukraine.
  • Ukraine says Russia hasn’t had much success so far but “fighting has intensified,” one soldier said.

Russia has begun its long-promised war escalation in eastern Ukraine, according to one of Ukraine’s eastern military commanders. 

“We can conclude that a certain escalation has already begun,” Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said in an interview posted to his Telegram channel, per CNN’s translation.

Russian attacks have intensified around attempts to move westwards from Kreminna, a Russian-occupied city in Luhansk that is a key hub in its ground communication lines.

Ukrainian forces have “repulsed a large number of attacks” there, Haidai said, with Russian troops failing, so far, to have much success.

“We can say de facto that this is part of the full-scale offensive that Russia has been planning,” he said. 

This backs up other reports that have come out in recent days. 

Ukrainian politician Anton Geraschenko tweeted on Wednesday that the Russian offensive is already taking place.

“Russia throws colossal amounts of weapons and people to attack Ukraine and has been for some time,” he said.

A Ukrainian soldier fighting in Kreminna, identified as Anton, meanwhile, told The Guardian: “The fighting has intensified. They launched another offensive last night. So far we are holding our position, but it is tough.”

Insider was unable to immediately confirm the claims, but combined reports from the US-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), plus Ukrainian and Russian defense updates all describe intensified action around the key frontline area of Kreminna, as well as fighting in multiple other locations.

Among these, the ISW noted a flurry of reports of Russian attacks pushing westwards along the communication line between Kreminna and Svatove, a city to the north, on February 9.

The reports suggest that Russia is also committing fresh equipment to the attacks, the assessment said. 

Meanwhile, pro-Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group are gathering around the fiercely-fought city of Bakhmut, according to a UK Ministry of Defence intelligence assessment.

Bakhmut, which is still in Ukrainian hands, is around 30 miles south of Kreminna. The city appears to be a primarily propagandistic target for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, experts told Insider’s Jake Epstein.

The ISW recorded reports of six separate ground assaults near villages around the city on Thursday — all of which Ukraine claimed to have repelled.

The ISW also noted reports of Wagner Group attacks in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff of the Armed Forces reported as of early Friday Bakhmut had suffered further shelling. 

Officials and analysts have been predicting for months that a new Russian offensive would begin in the spring, with the country likely to commit hundreds of thousands of additional soldiers to the fight.

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