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The war between Russia and Ukraine is “about to enter a new phase,” British intelligence officials said on Saturday.
Britain’s defense intelligence agency said in an intelligence report that Russian troops were “certainly gathering” in southern Ukraine and that strategic fighting would now shift from the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine to the area between the Mykolaiv Oblast, Kherson and the Crimean Peninsula, in the South.
“Russia’s war with Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, with the heaviest fighting shifting to a frontline of about 350 km stretching southwest from Zaporizhzhya to Kherson, parallel to the Dnieper River,” it said. British Ministry of Defence.
“Russian forces are almost certainly gathering in the south in anticipation of Ukraine’s counteroffensive or in preparation for a possible attack,” the intelligence report added.
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The British Ministry of Defense also reported a major movement of Russian troops, tanks and support vehicles into the southern region.
“Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, towed artillery and other weapons continue to move out of the Donbas region of Ukraine and make their way southwest. Equipment was also reported to be moving from Russian-occupied Melitopol, Berdiansk, Mariupol and from mainland Russia via the Kerch Bridge to Crimea,” the intelligence update said.
“Tactical battalion groups (BTG), which compromise between 800 and 1,000 troops, have been deployed in Crimea and would almost certainly be used to support Russian forces in the Kherson region,” the report added, noting that another BTG likely to join these troops. “the next few days.”
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After more than 160 days of fighting in a war many pundits believed would have lasted less than two weeks, Ukraine has successfully launched counter-attacks and recaptured areas on the Eastern Front once occupied by Russia.
The country has also had success targeting critical transportation infrastructure that Russia used to aid troops on its front lines.
“Ukrainian forces are increasingly targeting bridges, ammunition depots and rail links in the southern regions of Ukraine, including the strategically important railway linking Kherson to Russian-occupied Crimea, almost certainly using a combination of blocking, damage, degradation, deny, destroy and disrupt securities to try to influence Russia’s ability to supply logistics,” the report said.
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The report comes as Ukrainian authorities shifted and responded to a Russian offensive in Kherson last month.