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What is expected to happen on the day that marks the 1st anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine

What is expected to happen on the day that marks the 1st anniversary of the

Ukraine's Defense Minister has said that Russia is preparing a major new offensive and warned that it could begin on February 24. Oleksii Reznikov said Moscow had amassed thousands of troops and might "try something" to mark the anniversary of the initial invasion last year.

The attack would also mark Russia's Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23. Ukraine has recently renewed calls for fighter jets to help defend against airstrikes after Germany, the US and the UK agreed to send them tanks.

Reznikov said Moscow had mobilized about 500,000 troops for the possible offensive.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a general mobilization of some 300,000 conscript troops, which he said was needed to ensure the country's "territorial integrity".

But Reznikov said the true figure recruited and deployed to Ukraine could be much higher.

"Officially they announced 300,000, but when we see the troops at the border, according to our estimates it is much more," he said.

Russia has claimed recent gains in the eastern Donbass region and its forces say they are moving into the frontline town of Bakhmut after a months-long battle that has led to heavy casualties on both sides.

Last month, Russian mercenaries and regular soldiers overran the nearby town of Soledar, and on Wednesday a Russian-appointed official, Yan Gagin, said Bakhmut was "operationally surrounded".

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said recently that Moscow may seek to "take decisive action" and launch a "major offensive" in the east.

Reznikov stated that Ukrainian commanders will try to "stabilize the front and prepare for a counteroffensive" before the rumored Russian advance.

"I am confident that 2023 can be the year of military victory," he said, adding that Ukraine's forces "cannot lose the initiative" they have gained in recent months.

Reznikov's comments come as Ukrainian intelligence claims President Putin has ordered his forces to capture Donbass before the end of spring.

Source: BBC

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