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Russia’s Spring Offensive Is Now Underway

On the eve of the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the next phase appears to have begun, and now it’s all about getting more weapons to Ukraine. It’s a race against time. In fact, Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has been bold enough to say that Moscow will take Kyiv by the end of this year. The NATO consensus, following a Tuesday meeting, is that Moscow could be planning a major air strike to break the battlefield deadlock, including the battle raging now in and around Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces appear to be making small gains as of mid-this week. NATO intelligence says Russian fighter jets and helicopters are being deployed near the border, prompting the scrambling of air-defense systems for Ukraine.

In the meantime, Russia’s Wagner mercenaries (courtesy of Yevgeny Prigozhin) are coming into even clearer focus as the Wagner kingpin oversteps but is still necessary for Putin’s offensive. Journalist David Patrikarakos, who pens a private newsletter for certain followers, wrote an article this week for the Daily Mail, detailing how Wagner operates, based on his experience embedding with Ukrainian special forces (he’s in Bakhmut right now). Wagner has now taken to helping fill Putin’s invasion ranks by recruiting from Russian prisons, offering them about $1700 to fight in Ukraine, including a presidential pardon if they survive for six months. These mercenaries are more difficult to fight back.…

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