Russian president Vladimir Putin will likely attempt a new offensive against Kyiv next year using Belarusian territory. But his chances do not look good.
After some bloody months of battle, the war in Ukraine is seemingly calming down as both sides lick their wounds. While there is a front still active, near the strategic center of Bakhmut, it is nothing more thana costly battle of attrition with no real developments so far.
Rumors that both Russia and Ukraine are preparing new offensives are running around Western media. Today, on Monday, Russian president Vladimir Putin landed in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss with Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Lukashenko is widely considered as slightly more than a Russian vassal. He sided with Putin from the start, providing Russian troops passage through Belarus for the initial attack against the city of Kyiv. He then allowed Russia to station some nuclear weapons inside Belarus, according to some Western sources.
Therefore, Ukraine is now worried that Russia will attempt a new invasion against Kyiv from Belarus. According to Ukrainian military sources, such an offensive should take place next February/March, so exactly one year after the first strike.
It is not clear if this new alleged Russian offensive would involve Belarusian troops. So far, Belarus has only taken the status of Russian supporter rather than active belligerent. This has spared Minsk from some of the worst European and international sanctions, but Putin’s pressure might be too strong.
If Russia actually attempts this offensive, it will use the new, freshly arrived troops. Specifically, those troops that have been mobilized back in September after Ukraine had regained control of the Kharkiv region.
Will the Russian attack again
In today’s meeting with Lukashenko, Putin will likely ask him to use Belarus again for another attack against Kyiv. But will it really be successful? Or will it bog down like it already happened this February?
Vladimir Putin is betting the success of this attack on the sheer size of his army. Again.
Indeed, it is true that the Russian army will be replenished enough in February to think of conducting a major offensive. But so was back in February 2022, and we all saw how that went.
Furthermore, now Russia would face a more experienced and better equipped Ukrainian army, and Kyiv remains a very defendable target. Kyiv cannot be easily surrounded by the Russians, and the existence of the river Dnieper makes it hard to attack.
Not to mention, of course, that it is the neuralgic center of Ukraine, its biggest and most populated city. Unless Putin has a trick up his sleeve, there can’t be any real talk of a conquest of Kyiv.
But who knows if Putin really possesses such a trick or not…