The Neue Zuercher Zeitung cited an internal prognosis of the conflict allegedly prepared by Germany’s defense ministry
Russia is likely to mount a renewed offensive in Ukraine early next year, Switzerland’s Neue Zuercher Zeitung has reported. The newspaper, citing an alleged internal prognosis prepared by Germany’s defense ministry, claimed Moscow’s objectives could range anywhere from seizing the whole of the Donbass region all the way to taking control of Ukraine in its entirety.
In its article on Friday, the media outlet alleged that the Russian leadership is determined to continue its military campaign against its neighbor in 2023, and in 2024.
According to the paper, this prognosis was made by the German defense ministry’s analysts and intelligence officers in their internal report, which is allegedly titled “Russian military-strategic options for action in the Ukraine war for the year 2023.”
According to the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, the prognosis considers two scenarios.
The first predicts that Russia may focus on conquering the entire Donbass region. This supposed offensive is expected to begin in April 2023, with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko simultaneously deploying his own troops near Ukraine’s northern border, the paper claimed. While Minsk’s forces are unlikely to actually move into Ukraine, this maneuver, according to the article, would ensure that Kiev would not be able to use all of its military to counter the Russian offensive in Donbass.
Should Russia’s plan turn out to be successful, the Kremlin intends to build fortified defenses in the region, the Swiss media outlet alleges. This would mean that any attempt by Ukraine to retake Donbass would lead to severe losses for Kiev. The report suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin would at the same time propose peace talks to the neighboring country while actively sending signals to the international community and the media that Moscow is ready for such dialogue. The latter should presumably help erode Western support for Kiev.
The second purported scenario, which is less likely, as the Swiss paper claimed, foresees much more ambitious plans on the part of the Kremlin: the conquest of the whole of Ukraine. According to the German military’s supposed prognosis, Russian forces would strike in the south from Donbass, while up to 70,000 Belarusian troops would cross the Ukrainian border in the north and march on Kiev.
Moscow’s military would allegedly aim to secure Ukraine’s border with Poland to stop the flow of Western weapons into the country, and to seize Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region.
However, to pull this off, Russia would need to declare a total mobilization. This, though, is “rather unlikely, for internal political reasons,” the German military analysts cited by the Neue Zuercher Zeitung are thought to have surmised.
Regardless of which scenario Moscow chooses to pursue, it would continue targeting Ukraine’s power grid and critical infrastructure in a bid to “wear out the Ukrainian people’s will to resist” and to “unleash further migrant flows to the EU,” the paper reported, citing the German military’s alleged prognosis.