Russia May Be Readying for New Ukraine Offensive

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Russia’s military may be taking advantage of a recent lull in fighting in eastern Ukraine to lay the groundwork for a new military offensive, NATO’s top commander told the U.S. Congress on Thursday.

U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the NATO supreme allied commander, said Russian forces had been seeking to “reset and reposition” while protecting battlefield gains, despite a fragile ceasefire agreed in February.

“Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive,” Breedlove said.

Pressed during the hearing, Breedlove acknowledged he could not predict Moscow’s next move but characterized its ongoing actions as “preparing, training and equipping to have the capacity to again take an offensive.”

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the ceasefire, says the violence is down markedly since the accord was signed in Minsk, Belarus, in February.

But the United States says Russia now has its largest force on the border since October and has deployed additional air defense systems, the biggest number since August.