UPDATE: Russia’s defence minister inspects frontline ahead of offensive expected early 2023

Vladimir Putin at joint headquarters - Image Press service of the President of the Russian Federation

13:12 (December 18) – The Russian defence minister has visited Ukraine to inspect the frontline first-hand as the country prepares its next steps.

The visit by Sergei Shoigu follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with his commanders to talk strategy and to plan the next phase in their invasion of Ukraine.

According to Russia’s defence ministry on Sunday, December 18: “The head of the Russian military flew around the areas of deployment of troops and checked the advanced positions of Russian units in the zone of the special military operation.

They said that Shoigu spoke with troops on the front line and visited a local command post, although it is not clear when or exactly where he visited. Video posted by the Russian Ministry of Defence showed the minister travelling by helicopter and included aerial shots of land, but nothing that might have given his location or that of the troops away. 

11:25 (December 17) – The next big Russian offensive could be coming in 2023 as Ukraine has warned after Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to joint headquarters to meet with his generals.

Independent Russian news agency Kommersant reported on Saturday, December 17 that Putin spent the entire day in the joint headquarters reviewing the military operation in Ukraine.

He is believed to have listened to proposals regarding both immediate and future action with the Kremlin saying: “He got acquainted with the work of the headquarters, heard a report on the course of a special military operation, and also held a meeting and separate meetings with commanders.”

They also posted a video showing the opening gambit of his speech in the meeting with the commanders. In that video he starts by saying: “Dear comrades, we will hear the commanders in each operational direction, and I would like to hear your proposals on our immediate and medium-term actions.”

The meeting is said to have been attended by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov and Commander of the Joint Group of Forces Sergei Surovikin.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been warning for some time that Russia was planning a major offensive in 2023, could this meeting with Putin and his generals be proof of that claim?

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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.