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According to Ukrainian officials, Friday saw more of the eerily consistent nationwide missile strikes that Russia has been conducting across the country for months. However, there was a noticeable uptick in the number of strikes Russia conducted on Friday with Moscow firing up to 35 S-300 missiles at Zaporizhzhia and the Kharkiv region. The escalated strikes caused additional power outages overnight across the country.
Kyiv has been warning of a new Russian offensive since the end of 2022 and has claimed that hundreds of thousands of Russian troops have been amassing on its border. Friday's increased missile attacks came a day after Serhiy Hayday, the leader of the Luhasnk region in Ukraine said that Moscow was increasing its attacks on that part of the country. Hayday commented that the increased missile strikes were "part of the full-scale offensive that Russia has been planning."
While it has been difficult to assess with accuracy, there have been indications from both sides that Russia has been building up its mobilized reserve forces on Ukraine's eastern border and inside Ukraine itself. A pro-Kremlin, Russian military blogger, Evgeny Poddubny, wrote on his Telegram channel Thursday, "Our units, which were mostly formed from mobilized men, gained experience, which made it possible to increase the stability of the units on the front line." Poddubny went on to eventually admit that Ukrainian forces had also been able to replenish its "depleted units."
At the end of January, Hayday noted that there was an "incredible number" of Russian forces inside eastern Ukraine. Hayday said, "There are huge numbers of them [Russian troops in the Svatove-Kreminna area]. And a very large number of mobilized. And they are constantly being thrown into the offensive - almost all the time."
While the growing number of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine has not yet amounted to much on the battlefield, Hayday noted that Russian troops in the area are on the offensive. He then went on to say of the escalation in his region, "We can conclude that a certain escalation has already begun. And we can say de facto that this is part of the full-scale offensive that Russia has been planning."
While Russia begins to gear up for its much-anticipated winter offensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been on a whirlwind diplomatic tour of Europe in an effort to drum up fighter jets and other military support for war-battered Ukraine. His tour has included England, France, and Poland, thus far among other nations. Zelensky has had some success with getting larger-scale weapons and equipment from Ukraine's Western allies, with both Berlin and Washington agreeing to send Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv at the end of January.