(Dan Tri) – Ukrainian and Western officials believe that Russian forces may be preparing for a large-scale attack in late spring or summer, according to the Financial Times.

Ukrainian artillery system opens fire in Donetsk (Photo: Reuters).

Britain’s Financial Times (FT) on April 13 quoted unnamed Ukrainian and Western officials saying Russian forces may be preparing for a large-scale attack in late spring or summer, aiming to

Ukrainian officials also said that Russia may be planning to attack Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city near the Russian border, FT reported.

In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

With a vital military aid package for Ukraine still stalled in the US Congress, Ukrainian forces are struggling to repel Russia’s growing attacks in multiple directions.

Both foreign and Ukrainian officials say the lack of US aid has begun to weaken Ukraine’s position on the battlefield.

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Oleksandr Syrskyi admitted on April 13 that the situation on Ukraine’s eastern front had `deteriorated significantly in recent days` as Russia increased its offensive efforts.

According to Mr. Syrskyi, warm, dry weather has created conditions for Russia to increase attacks with armored vehicles in the Bakhmut, Lyman and Pokrovsk areas.

The Russian army has recently focused its offensive efforts near the Chasiv Yar region in Donetsk province, about 70km northwest of Donetsk city and about 10km west of Bakhmut city.

According to the Ukrainian military, Russia sees taking control of Chasiv Yar as an important milestone for further advances west towards Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

`If Russia takes Chasiv Yar, they can speed up their advance deeper into Donetsk province,` said Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

British newspaper: Russia is preparing for a big battle, focusing its efforts on gaining more territory in Ukraine

Location of Kharkiv region in Ukraine (Photo: US Department of Defense).

At the end of March, President Volodymyr Zelensky did not rule out the possibility of Russia launching a large-scale attack in late May or June.

Russia has also recently increased its attacks on Kharkov, targeting critical infrastructure.

Some media have reported that Russia may launch a ground attack against the city this year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on April 6 that `Kharkov will be protected` in case Russia launches an attack.

`Today, Kharkov is not in danger. Russia does not hide that Kharkov is a desired target,` Mr. Zelensky said, referring to local defense lines and the readiness of the Ukrainian army.

Ukrainian military intelligence said that information about a potential attack on Kharkov was `part of Russian psychological operations`, adding that there were no signs that Moscow was preparing teams