Russia has changed its strategy and is focusing on trying to take control of the Donbas and other areas of eastern Ukraine to declare success during Victory Day celebrations on May 9, US commercial broadcaster CNN reported on Sunday, citing sources familiar with the country’s intelligence findings.
After more than a month of war, Russian ground forces have been unable to maintain control over areas where they have been fighting. Russian President Vladimir Putin is under pressure to demonstrate victory and has the best chance of achieving it quickly in eastern Ukraine, the sources said.
US intelligence intercepts indicate that the president is focusing on Victory Day, which commemorates the surrender of the Nazi Third Reich in WWII. As part of the celebrations, a military parade is then held in Moscow’s Red Square. As pointed out by CNN, Vladimir Putin wants to be able to celebrate on that day some victory in his war against Ukraine.
According to sources in the US and Europe, Moscow’s rhetorically-imposed timeline does not change the fact that it is preparing for an extended war.
As assessed by US intelligence, the desire to seize eastern Ukraine by early May is also prompted by weather factors. As the ground warms up, it will thaw, making Russian troop movements more difficult, so it is crucial that they are in their target positions as soon as possible.
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