Ukraine LIVE: Russia mobilises 500,000 soldiers as Putin readies for 'active phase of war'

As Ukraine fights to defend the frontline, rotating soldiers on a four-day cycle, “new groups of career military” Russians keep arriving for a new attack, the Ukrainian President has said, suggesting that Putin’s anticipated spring attack is now underway.

It was unclear when Russia’s next major offensive would be launched in Ukraine beyond the notion of spring, with Ukrainian officials saying they did not rule out “any scenario in the next two or three weeks”, but a significant increase in bombardments on defending positions suggests that the attack has already started.

Konrad Muzyka, a military analyst for Rochan Consulting, which tracks Russian deployments, said that reported Russian artillery barrages on Ukrainian positions had risen to 90 per day as of last week. A month ago, the average was 60 strikes per day.

Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, during a visit to France this week, said he believed Russia could “try something” to mark the anniversary of the invasion on February 24.

He suggested he could “see troops at the borders” and that it is possible the mobilisation figure of 300,000 announced by Vladimir Putin last September could be an underestimate.

Mr Reznikov said: “Officially they announced 300,000 but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments it is much more.”