(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- According to US military and intelligence experts, Russian forces are likely to launch a major offensive in the southern region of Ukraine in the coming days as President Vladimir Putin hopes to declare victory in Donbas and the south on May 9.
Last week, Russia began what it claims is the “second phase” of its “special operation” in Ukraine, the goal of which is to fully capture and control the Donbas region in the east as well as the southern region of the country.
In reality, the “second phase” is more of a “Plan B,” with Moscow moving the goalposts from capturing Kyiv to gobbling up as much of the east and south as it can to create a land bridge to Crimea so Putin can have some kind of victory.
To do so, Russian forces are attempting to break through Ukrainian defenses throughout Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. Moscow’s success would require the complete defeat of the remaining Ukrainian forces defending the southern port city of Mariupol.
Capturing Mariupol would free up about 20 percent of Russia’s total military force in Ukraine. Currently, Russia has about ten battalion tactical groups deployed around Mariupol.
Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the port city “liberated” and urged his forces to move on. But about 2,000 Ukrainians, over half of them civilians, are continuing to fight back.
On Friday, a senior Russian commander, Major General Rustam Minnekaev, told Russian news media that the goal of Russia’s “second phase of the special operation” is to “establish full control” over the eastern Donbas and southern Ukraine.
Some US officials believe that adding control of the entire south to its territorial objective may be more than Russia can achieve, creating additional logistical troubles, like maintaining the flow of supplies of ammunition, food, and fuel – troubles that have already dogged Russian forces throughout this invasion.
Just a week into the so-called “second phase,” Russian forces around Donbas have already found themselves split while fighting continues in Mariupol and along the thinly-deployed 250-mile southern front.
While it remains possible for Russia to make some progress in Donbas over the next ten days to meet Putin’s May 9 deadline, the probability isn’t good.