Russia is preparing to send a new force of fighter jets and attack helicopters to regain ground in Ukraine, intelligence officials have warned.
Western analysts have said a build-up of aircraft on the Ukrainian border could see Putin’s forces attempt to push the offensive in the Donbas region.
It comes as NATO defence ministers meet for a two-day summit in Brussels to discuss plans for military support for the war-torn country.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told the military alliance’s members countries they must step up deliveries to ensure Ukraine can fight back against Russian aggression as Europe risks running out of ammunition.
Former Norwegian prime minister Mr Stoltenberg said: ‘This has become a grinding war of attrition and therefore it’s also a battle of logistics. This is a huge effort by allies to actually be able to get in the ammunition, the fuel, the spare parts, which are needed.’
Jens Stoltenberg told the 30 countries from the military alliance that they need to step up deliveries to ensure Ukraine can fight back against Russian aggression
Ukrainian officials say Moscow is plotting a much broader offensive on the eastern Donbas regions, but also fresh attacks on Kharkiv in the northeast and Zaporizhzhia in the country’s south-east. Pictured: Ukrainian soldier near the destroyed Retroville shopping centre
He added: ‘We see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. What we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, for new offensives and new attacks.’
Ukrainian officials say Moscow is plotting a much broader offensive on the eastern Donbas regions, but also fresh attacks on Kharkiv in the northeast and Zaporizhzhia in the country’s south-east with aircraft and thousands of tanks and armoured vehicles.
Yesterday, Putin sent two nuclear-capable bombers over the Bering Sea, which separates Russia from Alaska, in a show of strength to the West.
Such moves were common during the Cold War, but it is the first time the Russia Federation has taken such a measure.
Ukraine is reportedly preparing to use British long-range missiles to strike the Russian-held Crimea while Russia prepares to launch its new wave of attacks.
President Zelensky is pushing his western allies to supply more missiles and fighter jets to propel the attacks, warning the war could ‘stagnate’ without them.
Rishi Sunak has responded to his plea by admitting ‘nothing is off the table’ when it comes to the UK’s supply of military aid to help fight the Russian invasion.
Ukraine’s armed forces are firing some 6,000 artillery shells a day, far faster than their Western allies can resupply them.
Russia is using as much as 20,000 rounds a day equivalent to what European factories can produce in a month. But there is yet no decision on supplying Western fighter jets to the Ukrainian military.
Kyiv has demanded urgent air support that has been met with a mixed response from allies.
Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister, yesterday held up an image of a fighter jet when asked what he wanted from the meeting aimed at providing more weapons to the country.
The US and the UK have ruled out handing jets for now, but Britain has announced a training programme for Ukrainian fighter pilots.
Dutch defence minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Netherlands was taking Ukraine’s request for F-16 jets ‘very seriously’. Her Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak vowed ‘to apply pressure’ on fellow Western allies.
‘We are aware that our potential in this area is limited because we have only 48 F-16 aircraft, but the allies have much more potential, so I think that this conversation will end with positive decisions,’ he said.
Ukraine’s armed forces are firing some 6,000 artillery shells a day, far faster than their Western allies can resupply them. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers on patrol in Bakhmut
Russia is using as much as 20,000 rounds a day equivalent to what European factories can produce in a month. Pictured: Ammunition for a howitzer during training at a German army base
Mr Stoltenberg insisted that the topic of aircraft ‘is not the most urgent issue now, but it is an ongoing discussion’.
‘The urgent need now is to deliver what has already been promised. The armoured infantry fighting vehicles, and other battle tanks that have been pledged,’ he said.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said as many as 15 Nato countries have promised to send Ukraine battle tanks and 22 are set to provide infantry fighting vehicles. ‘The Kremlin is still betting that it can wait us out,’ he said.
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