Putin’s pincer plan to seize Donbas in WEEKS: How march on Kharkiv is ‘feint to capture prized region once and for all’

Putins pincer plan to seize Donbas in WEEKS How march on Kharkiv is feint to capture prized region once and for all
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VLADIMIR Putin is plotting to seize the Donbas region in just weeks as he distracts Kyiv’s forces on the northern front, military experts warn.

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The new offensive in Kharkiv could be Moscow’s ultimate deception – stretch and distract Ukraine to finally conquer the prized eastern region as early as June.

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Moscow could be plotting to seize the east while Ukraine’s forces are pulled up north to defend Kharkiv
Russia is quickly advancing in the northeast and Ukraine's commanders says it has run out of reserve troops to counter the attacks

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Russia is quickly advancing in the northeast and Ukraine’s commanders says it has run out of reserve troops to counter the attacks
Experts fear Vladimir Putin is willing to throw all he has at capturing the whole of the Donbas by June or July

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Experts fear Vladimir Putin is willing to throw all he has at capturing the whole of the Donbas by June or JulyCredit: Reuters

Professor Michael Clarke, former director of the UK think-tank RUSI, argued that in coming weeks the Kremlin’s troops will pound the Donbas from the north and south in a pincer movement to take it all.

Speaking to The Sun, he said that for over a month Russian forces have been stretching Ukraine all along its 600-mile front “putting pressure everywhere all at once”.

In a bid to beat Western weapons shipments arriving allowing Ukraine to strengthen its defences, Russia is on a “timetable to get something in the bag quick,” Clark said.

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“It’s a big semi circle and they’re trying to attack everywhere all at once,” he argued.

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But the Kremlin’s ultimate plan, Clarke argued, is to once and for all conquer the whole Donbas region in Ukraine’s east.

On May 10, Russia kicked off a major new offensive in the northeast in the Kharkiv region after massing more than half a million troops that looked set to march west.

Ukraine is desperately trying to hold the line as Moscow throws troops into meatgrinder assaults, seizing key villages and towns in its fastest advance for months.

By June or July, if they’re lucky, the Russians might have grabbed the whole of the Donbas

Prof Michael Clarke

And yet, Clarke believes this is a cruel deception, designed to draw Kyiv’s troops north while the majority of Moscow’s troops actually prepare to swing east and march south.

He said: “It’s a two-pronged offensive as I see it.”

The Russian advances on two fronts underscore the acute ammunition and manpower shortages crippling the Ukrainian military that have paved the way for the Kremlin’s army to eat away at Ukrainian territory.

General Sir Richard Sherriff, ex-deputy supreme allied commander of Nato, is also fearful that Putin’s ultimate next goal is the east not the north.

He told The Sun: “The latest offensive looks to be causing real problems for the Ukrainians.

“It could allow the Russians – if they launched an effective attack in the north, to force Ukraine to thin out its defences around the southeast [of Donbas].

“That could allow Russia to concentrate its forces in the Donbas and break through there and encircle Ukrainian defences while making significant ground.”

Clouds of smoke rise above Kharkiv as Russian forces bombard the city in what experts called a feint

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Clouds of smoke rise above Kharkiv as Russian forces bombard the city in what experts called a feintCredit: Getty
Thousands have been forced to evacuate the region

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Thousands have been forced to evacuate the regionCredit: Getty
The moment Ukrainian fighters clashed with Putin's army in a shootout on the first day of Kharkiv offensive.

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The moment Ukrainian fighters clashed with Putin’s army in a shootout on the first day of Kharkiv offensive.
Despite being outnumbered, brave soldiers are seen pushing through

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Despite being outnumbered, brave soldiers are seen pushing through
Fierce battles still rage in the Donbas region north of Bakhmut

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Fierce battles still rage in the Donbas region north of BakhmutCredit: Getty

SEIZING DONBAS

While Ukraine is terrified Russia could be headed for the city of Kharkiv after weeks of constant bombardment, Prof Clarke argues this isn’t likely to be their strategy.

“Kharkiv’s a big city,” he said, adding they are likely to keep the pressure on.

“But they can just sit back and do what they’re good at which is bombarding residential areas until it’s all rubble and then they plant a flag on the rubble.”

Instead, the border city of Vovchansk – where fierce street battles rage after Russian troops entered this week – is likely to be more pivotal, he argued.

“If they can take Vovchansk, I think they’re going to swing to the east to link up with forces coming from the Kupiyansk westwards.”

And then the game is on.

By creating a northern front in the Kharkiv region, “it will create a united force from west to east that will then drive south to link up with forces from Chasiv Yar driving north – and they’ll take Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.”

He stated those two key towns are the gateway to the rest of Donbas.

“That would make perfect sense to me – from now until end of June or July, if they’re lucky, the Russians might have grabbed the whole of the Donbas.”

US rushes in military aid & Zelensky cancels trips: The latest on Russia’s new offensive

The US has rushed through military aid after Ukraine admitted its forces were on the retreat in areas and President Volodymyr Zelensky cancelled all upcoming foreign trips.

This is the latest on the major new Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin has massed more than half a million troops on the northeastern front in a bid to overpower Kyiv’s stretched defences and battle-weary troops.

Ukraine is desperately trying to hold the line, but Russia has a significant advantage in manpower and munitions and is pushing their advantage, seizing miles of ground in days.

The blitz, said to be the first stage of Russia’s summer offensive, is designed to finally break through the stalemate by throwing troops into human wave assaults.

Royal United Services Institute war expert Dr Jack Watling told The Sun that unless Ukraine could muster more troops its prospects were bleak as Russia had “significant numerical superiority”.

Kyiv said the Russian push appeared to have run out of steam on Tuesday — but, in the face of Putin’s 500,000-strong force, warned that could change quickly.

On Wednesday, Moscow claimed its forces have pushed deeper into the Kharkiv region and captured the symbolic town of Robotyne – one of the only prizes of Ukraine’s muted summer counteroffensive.

Ukraine said Russia was throwing its troops into meatgrinder assaults to overwhelm Kyiv's forces on the northeast front

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Ukraine said Russia was throwing its troops into meatgrinder assaults to overwhelm Kyiv’s forces on the northeast front
President Zelensky postponed all his upcoming trips abroad to concentrate on Kharkiv

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President Zelensky postponed all his upcoming trips abroad to concentrate on Kharkiv
Russia has been repeatedly pounding the Kharkiv region for over a month in a tireless campaign to overwhelm Ukraine's forces

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Russia has been repeatedly pounding the Kharkiv region for over a month in a tireless campaign to overwhelm Ukraine’s forces
Russia then launched a major ground offensive on May 10 in the northeastern region

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Russia then launched a major ground offensive on May 10 in the northeastern region



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