Russia is preparing to launch a new invasion in northern Ukraine as the war nears its first anniversary, documents from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have revealed.
The potential attack, described as a “worst case scenario,” will reportedly be initiated from neighboring Belarus.
The analysis was published amid Moscow’s continuing effort to build up forces in Minsk, viewed as a willing participant in the 10-month invasion.
The ISW states that the military buildup makes more sense as part of preparations for a renewed offensive rather than as part of an ongoing military drill, which both countries have claimed.
“Moscow has been setting conditions for a new most dangerous course of action — a renewed invasion of northern Ukraine possibly aimed at Kyiv — since at least October 2022,” the report noted.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) December 27, 2022
Potential Courses of Action
Since February, Russia has suffered a number of losses due to strong Ukrainian counter-offensives supported by Western weapons.
At least 63,000 Russian soldiers have reportedly been killed, and thousands of weapons and equipment have been destroyed during the war.
According to former Russian military commander Igor Girkin, the military buildup in Belarus only leads to two potential courses of action.
He said that Moscow could invade from Belarus to capture more territory or use it as a “diversionary tactic” to draw Ukrainian forces away from key regions.
So far, Russia has annexed four regions in Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.
However, Russia does not fully control any of the regions, and in November, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered Moscow’s troops to withdraw from the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces had been advancing on for weeks.