It’s too early to say that Putin has given up on capturing kyiv, despite the change in strategy, Western officials warn

Over the next few weeks, officials expect Russian forces to resupply and reposition in a bid to launch a brutal new offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“They’ll be rearmed, because they’ve used up a lot of ammunition,” Stoltenberg said, “and they’ll be replenished with fuel and everything they need, food, etc., to launch another big offensive.”

It’s still unclear what Putin’s long-term goals are, a senior defense official said. But despite the recent shift in strategy and ongoing peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, the United States and its allies are preparing for the possibility that Putin will attempt to reinvade the kyiv region once he reaches its targets in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, assuming it has enough manpower and equipment to do so, US and European officials told CNN.

“In order to protect any territory it seizes in the east, we expect that Russia could potentially expand its force projection and presence even deeper into Ukraine, beyond the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.” , US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday. “At least, that’s their intention and their plan.”

Sullivan added that the United States expects Russia to continue to launch airstrikes and missiles across Ukraine, including against the cities of kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Lviv.

“Russia’s goal, ultimately, is to weaken Ukraine as much as possible,” he said.

US, European and Ukrainian officials told CNN they do not believe Russia is negotiating in good faith with Ukraine and the talks are little more than a “smokescreen”. Officials also said they did not believe Putin had given up on his goal of deposing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Western-aligned government in Kyiv.

“While Moscow may now be interested in using military pressure to find a political settlement, if this eastern offensive proves to be gaining ground, Russia may regenerate forces for additional purposes, including trying to take the control of even more territory in Ukraine,” Sullivan said in his remarks on Tuesday.

US intelligence suggests that while Russia may attempt to re-attack elsewhere, such an operation could have limited success given the heavy casualties its military has already suffered over the past six weeks, one of the sources said. close to US valuations.

But Russian forces are resupplying as they move east, leaving Western governments to actively – but informally – assess the kinds of security guarantees they could provide to Ukraine that could deter any new Russian offensive.

Officials said they still believe the clearest path to ending the war is for Ukraine to decisively repel Russian forces, which is why NATO members and Europe have continued to dump military equipment into the country.

“There is only one way out of the war,” said a European official. “And it’s up to Ukraine to win.”

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