The Russian invasion of Ukraine is entering its “third phase”, which will be characterized by prolonged fighting, according to Ukrainian government officials.
The “first phase” of the Russian offensive was the attempt to occupy Ukraine “within a few days,” said Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Viktor Andrushev late Friday night.
The “second phase” was marked by attempts to encircle Ukrainian forces and defeat them in various besieged areas, he added.
In this new “third phase” we will see Russian troops defending the territories in which they have gained control so far, he said.
“This shows that they are planning a protracted war,” said an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. “Moscow seems to believe that a protracted war could push the West to the negotiating table and force Ukraine to back down,” he said.
Meanwhile, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the fighting so far had shown that Moscow’s image of the Russian army – “the undefeated, second largest army in the world” as it stands – is “fake”, reported the Ukrainian agency UNIAN.
Arestovich also said he expected the impending collapse of the Russian economy in the summer.