Former Ukrainian General Viktor Muzhenko warned that Russian forces could launch a new offensive over the summer following months of stagnation in their invasion of Ukraine.
Muzhenko, who previously served as chief of general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said in an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Fakty that he believes any Russian offensive will likely occur in the late summer or early fall of this year. Specifically, he suggested that an August offensive would be most likely due to its symbolic importance among Russian military leaders.
His remarks come after Russian forces have struggled to achieve substantial victories against Ukraine in recent months. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the Ukraine “special military operation” in February, aiming for a quick victory against the Ukrainian military, which at the time was perceived to be much weaker than that of Moscow, one of the largest militaries in the world.
However, Ukraine met Russia with a stronger-than-expected defense effort that has since been bolstered by Western military aid, blunting Russian military gains. After more than one year of the conflict, fighting remains concentrated in the easternmost parts of Ukraine.
Muzhenko told Fakty that if Russia aims for a new offensive this year, it would likely occur in August as a way to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk, a turning point for Russia during World War II that ended in the liberation of Kharkiv, an eastern city that has also played a role in the latest invasion.
“Taking into account Russian symbolism, their ideologues ‘grandfathers fought,’ ‘we can do it again,’ there may be plans that fit into such an ideological wrapper. This is how the situation arises,” he said.
While Muzhenko believes this is the most likely time for a Russian invasion, he also noted it is possible “that nothing special will happen this year.”
Despite recent struggles, he said that Russia could still have the ability to make a comeback in the war and that their troops have not necessarily “exhausted their potential.”
“I believe that there is still a certain resource there. The question arises: when will it be accumulated to the extent to implement some more or less significant operation, which they really need against the background of defeats and inability to demonstrate their even tactical victories in a year?” Muzhenko said.
Still, recent days have delivered more troubling news for Putin, as reports indicate that his troops have slowed offensives in the key battle for control of Bakhmut, reportedly causing Russian “panic.” The city has been the site of some of the most intense combat of the war as Russia seeks to win a symbolic victory amid other losses.
Russia analysts have long speculated about when Russia will launch its next offensive. The Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War in January suggested Putin could be eyeing an offensive in the spring.
On the Ukrainian side, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his forces will not be able to launch a new offensive until they receive more weapons from the West.
“We are waiting for ammunition to arrive from our partners,” he told the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.
Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense via email for comment.
“Muzhenko told Fakty that if Russia aims for a new offensive this year, it would likely occur in August as a way to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk, a turning point for Russia during World War II that ended in the liberation of Kharkiv, an eastern city that has also played a role in the latest invasion.”
Yeah, russia will make it as authentic as possible, if they have any WW2 tanks left.
By the way, what happened to Putin’s revised demands to take Donbas?
Great Russian victory at Kursk
German forces had suffered 200,000 casualties and lost 500 tanks, while Soviet losses amounted to 860,000 casualties and 1,500 tanks. Germans pulled back from the battle as the allies were invading Italy.
Sure. The T-34s are raring to go.