US intelligence revealed new estimates regarding the time required to resolve the war in Ukraine, and while Russian forces are making progress in the Donetsk region, a Russian official vowed Kyiv a crushing defeat.

CIA Director William Burns said Thursday that the agency believes the next six months will be "very decisive" in determining the final outcome of the war in Ukraine.

Burns added, in a discussion at Georgetown University, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is now betting on time, that he can crush the Ukrainians, and that he is betting on exhausting Europe politically and distracting the attention of the United States, but he considered that these Russian calculations are deeply flawed, as is the decision to wage war on Ukraine.

The US official added that Washington does not believe that Putin is serious about negotiations to stop the war, which has been going on for nearly a year.

At the same time, Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said to Al Jazeera that it is important for Ukraine to control its airspace to defend its lands, and that the United States will continue to help expel the Russians from its lands.

In the context, Politico newspaper quoted informed sources as saying that 4 officials of the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) told the Armed Forces Committee in the House of Representatives in a secret statement that it is unlikely that the Ukrainian forces will be able to restore Crimea - which was annexed by Russia. Year 2014- in the near future.

Ukrainian officials had said that Ukraine aspires to regain Crimea by next summer as part of counter-attacks it intends to launch with the support of heavy weapons that Western powers have agreed to send, but Moscow has warned that it will respond to that forcefully.

broad attack

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that Russia plans to launch a massive offensive on the first anniversary of the war that began on February 24, 2022.

Reznikov said in remarks to French media during his visit to Paris that the expected Russian attack would be concentrated in the east and south.

He added that estimates indicate that the Russian forces called in nearly half a million soldiers last fall, not 300,000 as Moscow officially announced, pointing to the presence of large concentrations of Russian forces on the borders.

In turn, the Ukrainian National Security Council revealed that Russian forces are preparing to launch a large-scale offensive in the next few weeks.

According to Western intelligence estimates, Moscow may launch a large-scale attack in the spring, and Ukrainian officials do not rule out that the attack would launch from Belarus in the north towards the capital, Kyiv.

On the ground, the governor of the Russian province of Bryansk announced that the air defenses responded on Friday to a Ukrainian missile attack in the town of Starodubsky on the border with Ukraine.

And the Russian Ministry of Defense announced yesterday, Thursday, that its forces had taken control of the town of Vasilivka, north of the city of Bakhmut, in Donetsk Province (eastern Ukraine).

So far, the Ukrainian army says that it is repelling Russian attacks on Bakhmut, but President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged again on Thursday that the situation on the eastern front has become more difficult with the escalation of the Russian army's attacks, which seeks to surround Bakhmut and control other areas.

Russian forces are trying to achieve field breakthroughs on the flaring fronts to the east and south before Kyiv receives the heavy tanks promised by its Western allies.

European summit

Diplomatically, a summit will be held today, Friday, in Kyiv between Ukraine and the European Union, with the aim of affirming European support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

On the eve of the summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country deserves to start negotiations to join the European Union this year.

Zelensky added after talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that further integration with the European bloc would inspire Ukrainians and give them an incentive to fight against Russian forces.

Kyiv hopes that the summit will witness a European declaration on toughening sanctions against Russia, but it is unlikely that European leaders will agree to accelerate Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

Prior to the summit, France announced that it would supply Kyiv with additional howitzers, while President Emmanuel Macron did not rule out approving Ukraine's request to obtain combat aircraft.

Medvedev visits a military factory in Moscow (Reuters)

"crushing defeat"

In Moscow, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian National Security Council, said that arms supplies to the Russian army will intensify this year in order to inflict what he described as a crushing defeat on Ukraine.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to respond to what he described as a new Western aggression against Russia through Ukraine.

"Nazism has reappeared and threatens Russia with German tanks," Putin said, referring to Berlin's decision to supply Kyiv with Leopard 2 tanks.

For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed yesterday, Thursday, that Russia will fully use its capabilities to the fullest in order to respond to the risks in the context of the military operation in Ukraine.

In the context, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that the West hopes to inflict a geostrategic defeat on Russia, and rejected what he described as Western allegations that Moscow refuses to negotiate on Ukraine.

Lavrov also vowed to remove the weapons promised by the West to Ukraine from the Russian borders.