Russia is unlikely to see strategic success in any potential offensive in Ukraine this spring due to limited support on force ratios, equipment and logistics, according to Western officials speaking to media on background.
These limitations might not prevent Russia “from trying to launch an offensive,” but their “ability to change the course of the conflict at the moment is constrained,” the officials said.
Moscow is struggling to replace its losses, the officials added.
“There are severe constraints to their ability to really backfill the losses that they have suffered in Ukraine, which is why you see them reach out to international partners to try to fill the gap," they said.
Russia and Ukraine were fundamentally in "a race" as to "who can maintain the supply of weapons,” they said.
Moscow's current offensive is more about “the existing manpower and equipment being deployed and redeployed locally. You're seeing people kind of taking offensive action, but I don't think you're seeing the beginning of the offensive in big strategic terms. It's unlikely that hundreds of thousands of mobilized reservists have been formed into cohesive formations capable of major offensive, maneuver operations,” the officials explained.
Belarus' role: Meanwhile, the officials expressed doubt in Russia using its neighboring ally Belarus to launch an offensive in the coming months.
“Belarus is providing a useful training ground for Russian forces where they can outsource for training and then siphon them back round into the front line in Ukraine,” the officials said. “We do see Russian forces in Belarus. We don't see them deployed to the border, and at the moment, they don't have the kind of capability in the logistics to project and threaten Kyiv.”
But the Russian troops' presence would prompt Ukraine into stationing its troops in that direction to "offset that potential risk," the officials said, even though they stressed it is "hugely unlikely" that Belarus "will be an axis of advance in the next several months.”