Putin amasses 500,000 troops for 'new Ukraine invasion' ahead of war's first anniversary

2 February 2023, 16:24

Vladimir Putin has amassed almost 500,000 troops as tensions in Ukraine rise
Vladimir Putin has amassed almost 500,000 troops as tensions in Ukraine rise. Picture: Alamy

By Harvey Lindsay

Vladimir Putin has amassed almost 500,000 troops as tensions in Ukraine rise in a renewed clash marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov has said.

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The Russian president has gathered 300,000 men to be entered into a general mobilisation in September, however Mr Reznikov recently told the French BFM network that the real figures of conscripts deployed to battle in Ukraine could be much more.

He said: “Officially they announced 300,000 but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments it is much more."

Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy backed up the claim, saying that Ukraine is seeing "a certain increase in the occupier’s offensive actions at the front – in the east of our country”.

Read more: Shell posts record profits of £32.2bn after oil prices surge in wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

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Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Picture: Alamy

In his nightly address on Wednesday, Mr Zelenskyy said the situation is becoming even more severe.

Russian troops have now surrounded the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a Moscow-backed leader in the Donetsk region claimed.

The Russian president has gathered 300,000 men to be entered into a general mobilisation in September, however Mr Reznikov recently told the French BFM network that the real figures of conscripts deployed to battle in Ukraine could be much more.
The Russian president has gathered 300,000 men to be entered into a general mobilisation in September, however Mr Reznikov recently told the French BFM network that the real figures of conscripts deployed to battle in Ukraine could be much more. Picture: Getty

Mr Reznikov said Putin is likely preparing a major new offensive and could hit Ukraine to mark the one-year anniversary of the war on February 24.

He said: "Officially they announced 300,000 but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments it is much more.”

Ukrainian military with rescuers and local residents conduct a search and rescue operation on February 02, 2023 in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.
Ukrainian military with rescuers and local residents conduct a search and rescue operation on February 02, 2023 in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Picture: Getty

The European Council agreed to provide Ukraine with a seventh package of military support worth €500m.

In a statement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell said: “Today’s new measures send a clear message at a crucial time: we will continue supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes and as long as it is needed.”

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said his diplomats would attempt to compete with pro-Ukraine events in Western cities on the anniversary of the war.

He said: "Our diplomats will do everything to ensure that any mayhem planned for the anniversary of the special military operation at the end of February in New York and elsewhere — the West is now actively planning it along with the Kyiv regime — so that these events were not the only ones to grab the international community’s attention.”

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