“The Big Push”, that elusive grail of First World War generals, is looking increasingly imminent in Ukraine. When the war became almost static with the onset of winter, the lull facilitated endless speculation about a spring offensive, Russian or Ukrainian – or both. Two months ago there was growing suspicion that Vladimir Putin might have reverted to his original strategy and was planning an all-out dash for Kyiv, with forces based in Belarus and Russia.

However, there does not seem to have been a sufficiently large build-up of troops in the relevant areas to support that theory any more. The biggest concentration of Russian troops is in the Donbas, with large numbers now assembled in the Donetsk Oblast. The presumed objective is to complete the encirclement of Bakhmut, retake Lyman and advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk; the success or otherwise of such an offensive would thereafter determine the Kremlin’s further strategy.