Russia is preparing to deploy up to 1,000 additional mercenaries to Ukraine in the coming days and weeks, with a senior Western intelligence official warning that Moscow could “bomb cities until they surrender,” an escalation that could lead to heavy civilian casualties.
The United States has already seen “some indications” of the involvement of Russian mercenaries in it Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “In some places,” a senior defense official said earlier this week, it wasn’t clear exactly where or what the numbers were.
“We’ve seen some indications that they are working,” the official said.
Now, a US official told CNN that Russia plans to deploy up to 1,000 mercenaries in the near future.
Stalled Forces: Some Russian forces have suffered morale problems and setbacks on the battlefield, including a huge convoy north of Kyiv that has remained largely grounded for the past several days.
The official said the mercenary forces would fortify the faltering units as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second weekend.
The official added that the United States believed that mercenaries already in Ukraine “performed poorly when they encountered tougher resistance than expected from the Ukrainians,” and that as many as 200 of those mercenaries had been killed in the war as of late February.
Meanwhile, US and Western officials expect Russia to increase the frequency and force of its strikes on major Ukrainian population centers, including the capital, Kyiv.
intense assault: A senior Western intelligence official said on Friday that Russia now appears prepared to “bomb cities into submission,” which could include a significant increase in civilian casualties.
“It’s a very blunt approach,” the official said. “Heavy weapons are not only heavier in weight, they are also heavier in terms of the damage they can do. And they are much less discriminating.”
Other officials have noted a shift in Russian strategy from military targets to civilians, with more attacks focused on population centers.
“The coming days are likely to be worse, with more deaths, suffering and more destruction, as the Russian armed forces bring in heavy weapons and continue their attacks across the country,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday.
we Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken echoed the same sentiments during a news conference in Brussels on Friday as he meets with European allies.
The Kremlin’s attacks are causing increasing civilian casualties there. Hundreds if not thousands of Ukrainians were killed, many wounded, and citizens of other countries were also killed. More than a million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. “Millions of people across Ukraine are trapped in increasingly dire conditions as Russia destroys the most critical infrastructure,” Blinken said.
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