As it happened: Ukraine war latest news: ‘Crucial’ period as Russia focuses on east

Image caption: Western officials and military analysts say they expect an intense Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine in coming weeks

Following President Zelensky’s warning that Russia is getting ready to
send tens of thousands of troops to Donbas, we’ve been speaking to Russian
security policy expert Dr Aglaya Snetkov about how the conflict in Ukraine’s
east could unfold.

What will Russia’s
strategy be?

“We are looking at a slow war of attrition,” says

“The Russians will be focused on grinding down Ukrainian
positions and infrastructure.”

She says Putin will attack from the north and from Mariupol, in
the south – piling on pressure to extract concessions.

What will the fighting
look like?

Snetkov believes Russia may target more railway infrastructure
but fears there will be more civilian casualties too.

“Whether they’re planning to take over areas in the east by
bombing them out of existence, at this stage we don’t know.”

She says it will take a while longer for heavy military
equipment to arrive in Donbas, especially if it’s travelling from Belarus or

How else could things

Meanwhile, she says Russia’s appointment of General Alexander
Dvornikov to oversee the invasion could make the Russian operational strategy
more coordinated – with fewer generals sent to the front line.

“What’s been surprising until now is that the Russians have
had no chief of command, or at least we haven’t known who it was.”

Copyright: Maxar Technologies

Image caption: Recent satellite imagery shows an eight-mile plus military convoy moving through the Ukrainian town of Velykyi Burluk, in the Khrkiv region north of Donbas