Vladimir Putin is planning to double or even treble his military forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine for a renewed assault, Western officials believe.
One official said the Russian president wants to be able to declare a victory of some sort by the time of a 9 May parade in Red Square to mark the anniversary of Nazi surrender in the Second World War. But, the figure added, it is “questionable” whether Putin will be in a position to do so.
It comes after top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said Ukrainians “are very much aware of” Russian troops reassembling to attack Donbas. “I’m afraid in the next day, the war will increase on the Donbas,” he said on Monday.
Meanwhile, Mariuopol’s mayor said earlier that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the beseiged city since Russia began bombarding it. Vadym Boychenko addeded the death toll could well surpass 20,000, telling reporters that corpses were “carpeted through the streets”.