Retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling predicted on Saturday that Russia’s war in Ukraine might “heat up” in the spring because it’s “tougher” to conduct operations during the winter.
Hertling was asked during an interview on CNN This Morning whether or not he thinks the spring would be a key inflection point in the war. The former general responded that he thinks it will.
“The expectations for the spring are that they will contribute additional mobilized forces, although so far, the Russian mobilization efforts have been a failure across the board,” Hertling said. “Winter slows operations down, it’s tougher to conduct operations, and there had been an unbelievably tough slugfest in the East and the southwest, even during the winter. I think we’re going to see things heat up quite a bit, and it will be an opportune time for Ukraine to continue their offensive operation.”
He added that if Ukraine tries to retake territories, then it has to conduct combined arms operations in the southeast and continue to counter any Russian advances in the Donbas region.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said during a press conference following the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, that there is an opportunity for Ukraine to strengthen its capabilities between now and the spring. Representatives from over 50 nations gathered at the U.S-led meeting to discuss ways to strengthen Ukrainian military capabilities.
“What we’re really focused on is making sure that Ukraine has the capability that it needs to be successful right now. So we have a window of opportunity here…between now and the spring when…they commence their operation, their counteroffensive, and that’s not a long time, and we have to pull together the right capabilities,” Austin said.
Austin also warned about Russia’s mobilization efforts and its plans to strengthen troops, noting that it’s important for the West to continue supporting Ukraine.
“This is a crucial moment,” he said. “Russia is regrouping, recruiting and trying to re-equip. This is not a moment to slow down: It’s a time to dig deeper. The Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us. And history is watching us.”
During the Friday meeting in Germany, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for the contact group to speed up deliberations about sending additional military assistance to his country, including supplying his troops with tanks.
“I’m truly grateful to all of you for the weapons you have provided,” he said. “Every unit helps to save our people from terror, but time remains a Russian weapon.”
He continued: “No. Terror does not allow for discussion. The terror, which burns city after city, becomes insolent when I tell [it] that defenders of freedom run out of weapons against it. The war started by Russia does not allow delays.”
Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign affairs ministry for comment.