Ukraine update: Russia prepares for major offensive; NATO nations rush to provide heavier weapons

Ukraine update: Russia prepares for major offensive; NATO nations rush to provide heavier weapons

Over the weekend, U.S. intelligence analysts warned that Russia was massing forces for a large offensive out of now-captured Izyum all the way to Dnipro, a distance of over 200 kilometers. U.S. intelligence has been on point throughout the war, but to outside observers the move seems utterly implausible. It would be an operation equal in scope to the Russian attack on (and retreat from) Kyiv, but facing even longer supply lines, routed through even less defensible territory, in the face of stiffer potential Ukrainian resistance and utilizing battalions that have suffered heavy losses since the first days of the war. There’s no part of that calculation that works out well for Russia, even taking Ukraine’s own heavy casualties into account.

That doesn’t mean Russia won’t try, and what we’ve seen from U.S. intelligence so far seems to hint that they have a much easier window into what Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s inner circle believes than what Russian military realities actually are. It’s very possible that Russia will attempt the unfathomably risky move because Putin and whatever generals still have Putin’s favor are demanding that their underlings do it. And it’s very possible that it could end in a shredding of those Russian forces that makes the Russian losses elsewhere pedestrian in comparison. The latter possibility is even more likely as NATO countries abandon their previous reticence at providing so-called “offensive” weaponry to Ukraine and are now opening the equipment floodgates.

That newest NATO equipment mostly hasn’t arrived yet, but Ukraine has been receiving a steady stream of the sort of anti-armor weapons that were used to such devastating effect elsewhere in the country. New armored vehicles to replace lost ones are now on the way as well. And hanging above it all, literally, are the region’s infamous spring rains. Our most recent news updates:

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