Ukraine Facing Crucial Period as Russia Focuses on East

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A map showing the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine
Image caption: Western officials and military analysts say they expect an intense Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine in coming weeks

Following President Zelensky’s warning that Russia is getting ready to send tens of thousands of troops to Donbas, we’ve been speaking to Russian security policy expert Dr Aglaya Snetkov about how the conflict in Ukraine’s east could unfold.

What will Russia’s strategy be?

“We are looking at a slow war of attrition,” says Snetkov.

“The Russians will be focused on grinding down Ukrainian positions and infrastructure.”

She says Putin will attack from the north and Mariupol from the south – piling on pressure to extract concessions.

What will the fighting look like?

Snetkov believes Russia may target more railway infrastructure but fears there will be more civilian casualties too.

“Whether they’re planning to take over areas in the east by bombing them out of existence, at this stage we don’t know.”

She says it will take a while longer for heavy military equipment to arrive in Donbas, especially if it’s travelling from Belarus or Russia.

How else could things change?

Meanwhile, she says Russia’s appointment of General Alexander Dvornikov to oversee the invasion could make the Russian operational strategy more coordinated – with fewer generals sent to the front line.

“What’s been surprising until now is that the Russians have had no chief of command, or at least we haven’t known who it was.”

Aerial view of a Russian convoy moving through Velykyi Burluk


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