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Russian forces ‘amassing 100,000 troops for massive attack in Kharkiv’

Russia is reportedly amassing a fighting force of around 100,000 troops in order to stage a massive attack in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Kyiv reports.

Ukrainian army spokesman Col Serhi Cherevaty confirmed the heavy Russian presence in the region, which he believes is focused on recapturing the city of Kupyansk.

The city served as a crucial logistics hub and supply route for Russia’s invading forces in the east, until it was recaptured by Kyiv during its counteroffensive last fall.

‘The enemy has concentrated a very powerful group,’ said Col Cherevaty told Ukrainian media. ‘More than 100,000 personnel, more than 900 tanks, more than 550 artillery systems and 370 rocket salvo systems.’

A Ukrainian military spokesman confirmed Russia had been amassing a huge fighting force to retake the city of Kupyansk (Picture: Getty)

He added: ‘They are concentrating everything in order to break through our defence. Our soldiers are firmly on the defensive. They do not allow the enemy to seize the initiative.’

Moscow’s troops have reportedly been in the area, but the recent uptick in attacks is seen to be a recent development.

‘This issue is not recent; it has been ongoing for many months, and our defense forces have consistently thwarted their progress with strong counterattacks,’ Chervaty said.

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‘The presence of 100,000 personnel is not a recent development. The approximate number has been known [to Ukrainian military intelligence] for a considerable time.’

Cherevaty claimed the Russian attacks, though significant in scale, have been ineffective due to the low quality of Russian unit training and lack of real motivation. 

‘Yes, it is big. We have to take into account its size. However, this number does not indicate a direct threat or a cause for concern,’ he added.

His comments come following reports that Vladimir Putin has increased the maximum age elegible for military service to 70 as he seeks to regain the intiative in the conflict with a big win.

Despite increased pressure on the Ukrainians, Russian forces have been unable to make a breakthrough so far (Picture: Getty)

Cherevaty’s claims were backed up by Ukrainian Army Land Forces Commander General Oleksandr Syrsky, who confirmed via Telegram that Russia had concentrated its forces to attack in the Kupyansk direction but has been unable to make a breakthrough thus far.

Syrsky, who commands Ukraine’s forces in the east, said Russia had recently reinforced its positions around Bakhmut with additional forces, but were steadily losing ground to the Ukrainians.

Meanwhile, Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, suggested that the Kupyansk attack may be a diversionary tactic used to lift pressure on sectors of the battlefield in the south where Ukraine has been taking ground.

‘As soon as we seize the operational initiative and start moving forward, the enemy immediately activates in other directions to distract and drag in our forces,’ she said.

Kremlin sources also appeared to confirm movement in the direction of Kupyansk, although there is no consensus on the size and shape of the attacking force.

According to a report on Tuesday, the Russian military had claimed that its troops had advanced on a ‘limited section of the front’ near Kupyansk, after ‘successful offensive operations.’ The announcement did not say when the attack or attacks took place. 

‘On the Kupyansk front, units from the Western group of troops continue successful offensive operations,’ a Kremlin statement said. ‘The total advance was up to two kilometres along the front and up to one and a half kilometres in depth’.

Fighting has been taking place in forests and fields outside the city (Picture: Getty)

The Lyman-Kupyansk sector has experienced a period of relative calm in recent months, marked by sporadic air strikes, intermittent artillery fire, and occasional ground exchanges. The current front line in the sector was set in October 2022 after a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive and has seen minimal movement since then.

But over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces in the Kupyansk-Lyman sector registered a distinct upturn in Russian barrages, counting 536 strikes throughout the day with all calibers of artillery.

The news comes as Kyiv has softened its rhetoric regarding the effectiveness of their counter-offensive against Russia, with commanders now alluding to ‘slow but steady’ progress against the invaders instead of a lightning push towards the Sea of Azov.

On Tuesday, Sysrky told BBC’s Today programme that ‘our advance is really not going as fast as we would like.’

Ukrainian general Oleksandr Syrsky (L) has admitted the country’s counter-offensive has not moved as swiftly as he would like (Picture: Reuters)

However, the US’s top general said on Tuesday that Ukraine’s counter-offensive was ‘far from a failure’, but that the fight ahead would be long and bloody.

‘I think there’s a lot of fighting left to go and I’ll stay with what we said before: This is going to be long. It’s going be hard. It’s going to be bloody,’ Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said. 

Britain’s Ministry of Defence also announced on Tuesday that it plans to spend an extra £2.5 billion on army munitions and create a new ‘global response force’, vowing to learn lessons from the war in Ukraine.

The MoD said the additional investment in stockpiles would cover the coming decade, and be paired with other spending and reforms intended to bolster ‘warfighting resilience’ and deterrence.

Vladimir Putin had vowed retaliation to the alleged attack on the Kerch bridge, which connects Russia to Crimea, earlier this week

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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