(CNN) – Russia has reconsidered its war strategy in Ukraine, according to several US officials familiar with the latest intelligence assessments.
It has been more than a month since the war began, Russian ground forces were unable to control the areas they fought. Russian President Vladimir Putin is under pressure to show that he can win, and officials say eastern Ukraine is the place where he can do it quickly. A U.S. official has said May 9 is a “victory day” for Putin in Russia.
May 9 is the most important holiday in Russia, as it commemorates the Nazi surrender during World War II with a large parade of troops and weapons in the Red Square in front of the Kremlin. Officials say Putin wants to celebrate a victory in his war that day.
But other officials point out that despite a Russian celebration, real success is still a long way off.
“Putin will march to victory on May 9, regardless of the level of war or peace talks,” a European defense official said. “On the other hand: what is a victory march with troops and vehicles?”
However, US and European officials say any deadline set by Moscow will not change the reality on the grounds that Russia appears to be preparing for a possible protracted conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking with optimism, a European diplomat said Putin was “preparing for a long and protracted Chechnya-style war because, to some extent, he can go nowhere about it.”
There are several reasons behind the May deadline, officials insist. With the end of winter frosts and the ground softening, heavy Russian ground units will become more difficult to maneuver. That is, US intelligence estimates that it will be necessary to deploy those forces as soon as possible.
Pro-Russian militants have also been in the area for years. Russian separatist forces occupied the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin announced It recognized two self-proclaimed independent republics in the Donbass region.
Ukrainian officials have also publicly mentioned the date. “Before May 9, Putin set a victory march target for this war,” Oleksi Danilov, secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine, said on Thursday.
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday that his country believes Putin is facing a “very difficult and difficult month” as he tries to meet a deadline.
“His ultimate goal was to seize Ukraine, and it will be, but he failed. It failed because of the strong commitment of the Ukrainian military and the very strong unity of Ukraine and the Western world, and the sanctions imposed by the United States, the G7 and the European Union,” Yatsenyuk said. , From what I now see, Putin became Plan Bik. In my opinion, this plan has some sort of deadline. The deadline is May 9th.
Two U.S. officials say Putin is now assessing for the first time that he is preparing to appoint an overall warlord to achieve greater success in Russia. The United States hopes Putin will appoint a general from the south because it is where the Russians succeeded in their objectives.
CNN previously reported What There is no Commander-in-Chief for field operations in or near UkraineAnd sections of various Russian military districts operating in different parts of Ukraine, according to two U.S. defense officials, appear to be competing for resources without coordinating their efforts.
One of the signs that the Russians were reuniting was that their troops, which had withdrawn from the war zones west of the Donbass, moved north and east of Kiev and moved north and sometimes back to Belarus.
The United States hopes this will push it to the point of moving into the Donbass region in the southeast. Officials say one goal of the Russian battlefield in Donbass will be to cut off Ukrainian troops already moving there to the west.
But shifting the battlefield to the east would do little to stop Russian air strikes on other parts of Ukraine, especially in the south, by missiles and long-range aircraft.