Russia is weighing a second round of its massively unpopular military mobilization, Ukrainian intelligence claims, as both sides gear up for a bloody spring.
Ukraine’s deputy military intelligence chief, Vadym Skibitsky, claimed Friday that Moscow was considering calling up an additional 500,000 troops ahead of planned offensive operations in the spring and summer, The Guardian reported.
If confirmed, the mobilization would risk a repeat of the unrest caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to press 300,000 Russians into service this fall.
The divisive draft led to massive protests throughout Russia and caused hundreds of thousands of fighting-aged men to flee the country.
Putin has said since that he is not preparing a second round of mobilization, and that only a fraction of those called up in the fall had been deployed to the front lines.
Regardless, the bloody war shows no signs of abating, with both sides gearing up for expected offensives in the spring.
The Biden administration Friday said that its next tranche of military support for Ukraine would include 50 M2 Bradley fighting vehicles.
The heavily armed troop transports can provide better support for infantry units than the aging M113 personnel carriers Washington had sent previously — but 100 of those Vietnam-era vehicles will be included in the package as well.
The US will also send HUMVEEs and other light vehicles, as well as ammunition.
John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said the tracked Bradleys were expected to give Ukraine an advantage in the rural eastern terrain where fighting is heaviest.
The American support package will be supplemented by 40 personnel carriers and a Patriot missile battery supplied by Germany.
Meanwhile, an eerie calm descended on Kyiv Friday as Putin’s ceasefire order for the Orthodox Christmas holiday went into effect.
The 36-hour peace has been panned as a ploy by Kyiv and the West, who suspect that Russia is using the time to reinforce its positions.
But no explosions rang out in the Ukrainian capital Friday — as they have near daily for weeks with air defense systems knocking suicide drones from the sky.
Ukrainians cautiously took to the streets to shop and attend Orthodox Christmas Eve celebrations.
Kyiv has not clarified whether its forces would abide by the ceasefire. The Russian Ministry of Defense issued reports of sporadic shelling and fighting, but those reports could not be confirmed.
United Nations’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UN personnel on the ground in Ukraine “have not seen reports of intense or major fighting,” but added that UN staffers were “not everywhere.”
With Post wires