Both sides in the war in Ukraine—the U.S./NATO side, and their Russian opponents—have been working feverishly to prepare for possible major battles and offensives this spring. Below are some of the measures they’ve taken recently, many of them this past week.
- December 21: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a plan to increase Russia’s military by 500,000 soldiers. He said this will “guarantee the fulfillment of tasks to ensure Russia’s security.”
- December 21: Shoigu also said Russia is creating “multiple new units” of its military, including infantry, airborne, and marine divisions; enhancing military communications and artillery training; increasing weapons and ammunition production, and “reshap[ing] military structure.”
- December 21: Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader, said in a speech at Russia’s Ministry of Defense Collegium that Russia "will sustain and improve the combat readiness of the nuclear triad. This is the main guarantee for preserving our sovereignty, territorial integrity, strategic parity and the balance of power in the world.” [The "nuclear triad" refers to the ability to launch nuclear attacks from land, sea and air.]
- January 16: the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that it has deployed a strategic missile division with its surface-to-surface missiles on combat patrol missions in the Tver Region of western Russia, within striking distance of Ukraine.
- January 16: The Institute for the Study of War, a pro-Western think tank, summed ups its evaluation of Russian war preparations in a report stating that Russia “likely intends to take decisive strategic action [in Ukraine] in 2023.”
- January 17, Russia announced it is increasing “the combat capabilities of the Navy, the Aerospace Forces and the Strategic Rocket Forces.”
- January 16: Mark Milley, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the U.S. has begun giving Ukrainian troops an “advanced level of combat training” on a U.S. base in Germany, with the goal of getting them combat ready by spring. The training is intended to make the Ukrainians “better prepared to launch an offensive or counter any surge in Russian attacks. They will learn how to better move and coordinate their company and battalion-size units in battle, using combined artillery, armor and ground forces.”
- January 17, Milley met with Valerii Zaluzhnyi, his Ukrainian counterpart, in Poland (which borders Ukraine), to discuss what they called the “unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and [exchanged] perspectives and assessments.”
- January 17: A core of Ukrainian soldiers sent to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, began to be trained in the use and maintenance of Patriot missile systems, an advanced surface-to-air guided missile system.
- January 17: England, France, Germany and the U.S. declared that they are sending “dozens of armored infantry fighting vehicles” to Ukraine.
- January 17: Olena Zelenska, wife of the Ukrainian president, went to the World Economic Forum of imperialist political and economic leaders in Davos, Switzerland, to “lobby for greater Western aid and weapons deliveries …” to Ukraine.
- January 18: NATO’s military leaders gathered in Brussels, Belgium, where its deputy secretary general told them “[W]e must be prepared for the long haul. 2023 will be a difficult year and we need to support Ukraine for as long as it takes....”
- January 18: Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, told the World Economic Forum that the “main message” of the Ramstein meeting [of the Ukraine Contact Group at the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany] will be “more support, more advanced support, heavier weapons and more modern weapons [for Ukraine].”
- January 19, the New York Times reported that the U.S. is sending an arms shipment of $2.5 billion to Ukraine. The shipment includes 90 Stryker armored vehicles intended to “break through” Russian defenses. This was in addition to a $3 billion shipment announced on January 6, which included infantry fighting vehicles armed with anti-tank missiles, mine-resistant vehicles, self-propelled howitzers, thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition, thousands of rockets and various small arms, and more.
- January 19: Nine defense ministers and representatives of NATO countries issued the “Tallin Pledge” (named for the Estonian city where they signed it) in which they declared that they are committed to “pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine’s defence.”
- January 20: CNN reported that CIA director William J. Burns had recently travelled to Ukraine, where he told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky what U.S. “expectations” are for Russia’s war plans for the spring. A U.S. official said Burns “reinforced our continued support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.”
- January 20: Dozens of “defense ministers” from countries allied with the U.S. met at Ramstein, a U.S. Air Force base in Germany. The meeting was led by Milley and U.S. Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin. A central point of the gathering was to “finally provide Kyiv [Ukraine’s capital] with a large amount of main battle tanks … which could prove pivotal in fresh counter-offensive operations.”1
- January 21: The Pentagon announced that it is keeping several thousand U.S. troops stationed in Romania, which borders Ukraine, for at least another nine months. The U.S. troops will now be led by a two-star general and top military planners, enabling the U.S. to be “well positioned to provide a robust deterrent and defensive posture alongside our allies across the European continent”—in other words, the capability to directly engage against Russia forces.