Russia's recent strategic change may not mean President Vladimir Putin has given up on trying to capture the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, according to US and Western officials.
Putin is set to launch a brutal new offensive in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.
"They will be rearmed, because they've used a lot of ammunition and they will be resupplied with fuel and all the things they need, food and so on, to launch a new big offensive," Stoltenberg said.
Putin's long-term goals are unclear, according to a senior defense official, yet US and European officials have told CNN that a reinvasion of the Kyiv region is still a possibility -- despite Russia's strategic shift and ongoing talks with Ukraine.
"In order to protect any territory it seizes in the east, we expect that Russia could potentially extend its force projection and presence even deeper into Ukraine, beyond Luhansk and Donetsk provinces," US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday. "At least that is their intention and their plan."
The US expects Russia to continue launching air and missile strikes across Ukraine, including against the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Lviv, Sullivan added.
"Russia's goal, in the end, is to weaken Ukraine as much as possible," he said.
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