Ukraine says Russia preparing 100,000 troops, possibly for summer offensive push

(Reuters) - Russia is preparing 100,000 troops who could be used for a possible new offensive push in Ukraine this summer or to replenish depleted units, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces said on Friday.

Lieutenant-General Oleksandr Pavliuk made his comments on Ukrainian television after recent advances by Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, more than two years after Moscow's full-scale invasion.

"It will not necessarily be an offensive, perhaps they will replenish their units that lost combat capability but there is a possibility that at the beginning of the summer they may have certain forces to conduct offensive operations," Pavliuk said.

In a sign of hardening rhetoric in Russia, the Kremlin said on Friday it now regarded itself as at war because of what it said was Western intervention on Ukraine's side.

The choice of words went beyond the "special military operation" language it has used so far, and could be part of a shift to prepare people mentally for a new phase of the war.

Russia's defence minister also said this week that Moscow would bolster its military by adding two new armies and 30 new formations by the end of this year.

Ukraine faces a shortage of ammunition aggravated by deadlock in the U.S. Congress over a new aid package although Kyiv hopes to have enough ammunition in April, thanks in particular to a Czech-led initiative to source artillery shells.

Deputy Defence Minister Ivan Havryliuk said in televised comments that Russia had an ammunition advantage over Ukraine of seven to one.

"I think that in a month or two this difference will be significantly reduced, and there will not be such a large ratio in favour of the Russian Federation," he said.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; editing by Tom Balmforth and Timothy Heritage)