Russian former president Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow was preparing for a Ukrainian counteroffensive, as Kyiv claimed Russian forces were running out of steam. The Ukrainian side is preparing for an offensive, everyone knows that. Medvedev said on Friday that our general staff is preparing its own solutions and is calculating this.
Medvedev, who is deputy chair of Putin's powerful security council, warned that Moscow was ready to use absolutely any weapon if Ukraine tried to regain the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.
Medvedev s latest apparent threat to use nuclear weapons came amid growing acknowledgment in Moscow that its forces could soon find themselves on the defensive in Ukraine as its winter offensive seems to be slowing down.
In a video interview on his social media channels Thursday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner group s head, warned that Ukraine was planning to surround the private military forces in Bakhmut and push forward into the Black Sea in the partially occupied Zaporizhzhia region.
He claimed that Ukraine had concentrated more than 80,000 troops around the eastern Ukrainian city.
The Russian army, aided by Wagner, has been throwing thousands of soldiers into battle for more than two months in its attempt to take Bakhmut and the surrounding area.
Western officials have warned that Bakhmut was on the brink of falling to Russia for a long time. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said his troops would continue to defend Bakhmut, which has emerged as a potent symbol of Ukrainian resistance.
Ukrainian commanders have started to raise the possibility of an unlikely turnaround in the largely ravished city, boosted by the influx of modern western weapons.
The commander of Ukraine's land forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Thursday Russians are losing significant forces in Bakhmut and are running out of energy. Russians have lost up to 30,000 soldiers in Bakhmut, including many former prisoners recruited by Wagner from prisons, according to western officials.
In the past, Syrskyi said that we would take advantage of this opportunity, as we did near Kupyansk, Kharkiv, Balakliia and Kyiv.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, hasn't commented on Ukraine's counteroffensive.
He has largely refrained from commenting on military developments on the ground.
Some loud pro-war commentators have renewed their attacks on the military leadership over its inability to achieve tangible military successes as the war enters its 14th month.
Igor Strelkov, a Russian ultra-nationalist and former intelligence officer, has issued his harshest criticism of the Russian president to date, lambasting him for not modernising the army and calling him a wet towel Vladimir Vladimirovich, shut up. Strelkov said in a video tirade this week that he was directly aimed at the president, "Just shut up, keep quiet." We won't have to be ashamed that there is a president in our country.