Senior Ukraine figures are warning that Vladimir Putin is readying a "pre-emptive strike" on the West to mark the one-year anniversary of his invasion of their country.
Satellite images are showing that Russian forces are building fortifications along the border with Ukraine from Luhansk to Donetsk and throughout Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
And Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's national security and defence council, reckons that could be a sign that Putin is planning something big for February 24 – the date last year that his troops crossed the border and kicked off hostilities.
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Speaking to Radio Svoboda, Danilov said: "Now they are preparing for maximum activation, and they believe that by the anniversary they should have some achievements. There is no secret that they are preparing for a new wave by February 24, as they themselves say."
The step-up in troop numbers along the border could also suggest that the Russian president is fearing a strong Ukrainian counteroffensive following the boost in tank numbers they have received following donations from the West.
It is understood too that Putin is keen to ascertain the power of Ukraine's defence capability in Zaporizhzhia.
Intelligence analyst Brady Africk, meanwhile, told the Daily Beast: "They're trying to basically consolidate their gains and keep the parts that they've held on to thus far. I think it's definitely both a message to soldiers in Ukraine, and to everyone who might be watching, that they're going to at least try and stay."
In a statement from the National Security Council, the White House surmised that Putin will be using the cold winter months to regroup and plan his next moves in the war.
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And the EU's defence chief has said that Russia are now waging "a war against Nato and the West" after Canada became the 12th country to send over tanks to bolster Ukraine's war effort
Stefano Sannino, the secretary general of the EU’s external action service, added that, for Putin, the time has now come to look beyond his initial "special military operation" and transition into a different stage.
Poland, Spain, Norway and Belgium will all commit considerable military aid to Ukraine in the coming days, with Sannino reasoning that Ukraine's allies are increasing their support in the knowledge that Moscow could soon switch their attention to the West.
He declared: "I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia has started moving the war into a different stage."
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