As Winter Comes, Russia Is Battered Because Ukraine Can Bring Another Blow
This week, the ominous sound of air raid sirens and the bursts of Russian attacks broke up the relative peace in Ukrainian towns far from the country's battlefields. As winter comes, Russia is battered.
Officials say that since Monday, missiles, rockets, and drones have been used to attack civilian infrastructure in many major cities, including Kyiv, which is hundreds of miles from the front lines in the east and south.
The heavy bombing was reminiscent of Russia's haphazard first invasion in February. Still, it also highlighted the fact that the fight in Ukraine, which had seemed to be settling into a slow and agonizing grind inside the Donbas in recent months, has exploded once again as winter approaches.
The conflict is once again teetering on the brink of an unknown new phase. Keir Giles, a senior consultant fellow at Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia Programme, said, "This is now the third, fourth, probably fifth separate conflict that we've been seeing."
Attacks began two days after a massive explosion destroyed the Kerch bridge, the last connection between the occupied Crimean peninsula and Russia, after weeks of Ukrainian ground gains. The Kremlin used that explosion as a reason to invade on Monday. It hurt Russia's psyche and gave Ukraine a huge strategic advantage.
COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/as-winter-comes-russia-is-battered/ by William Willis on 2022-10-14T06:09:02.069Z
Specialists believe the next few weeks of the conflict are expected to be highly significant. Another possible surge in depth looms over Ukraine as each side looks to strike another blow before the cold months arrive and slow down the floor struggle.
What seemed a distant prospect for anything that could be convincingly described as a Ukraine victory is now very much more plausible,” Giles mentioned. “The response from Russia is likely to escalate further.
- Keir Giles said
Approximately 120 communities have been retaken by Ukrainian troops since September, according to a senior Ukrainian military officer who spoke last week. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian government said that in its steady advance toward Kherson, it had freed five further communities. These counteroffensives have changed the tide of battle and debunked the idea that Ukraine is powerless to make gains.
Ukraine will want to launch a strong attack in Donbas before the effects of increased oil costs are seen throughout Europe. Ukraine and its Western allies will be tested every time there is an energy crisis in Europe, as happened this past winter, and again in Ukraine when their own energy infrastructure and electricity were devastated.
The specifics of the bombing of the Kerch bridge remain murky, but the idea that a target so far within Russian-controlled territory could be successfully targeted raised major concerns about the safety of strategic Russian assets.
According to the International Strategic Weapons Council (ISW), Russian precision weapons were "wasted" on civilians instead of having "military significance." The Ukrainian government claims to have shot down 18 cruise missiles on Tuesday and dozens more on Monday, but it is still asking its Western partners for additional weapons in case of further strikes.
Observers believe that Belarus' recent complaints about purported security concerns from Ukraine are a precursor to actual action on the part of Belarus. While such an incursion may not have much of an effect regarding raw personnel, it would pose the danger of another attack on Ukraine's northern flank just south of the Belarusian border.
By altering the conflict's narrative in the last two months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accomplished one of his goals: demonstrating to Ukraine's Western partners that their military assistance can help Kyiv win the war.
Now Zelensky needs additional supplies to consolidate his advantages. More than half of the missiles and drones fired against Ukraine on Tuesday were intercepted, the commander said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Ukraine needs "more" equipment to stop missile threats.
These air defense systems are making a difference because many of the incoming missiles [this week] were actually shot down by the Ukrainian air defense systems provided by NATO Allies. But of course, as long as not all of them are shot down, of course there is a need for more.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said
After Russian missile attacks, Biden offers Ukraine'modern air defense systems' A military expert at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, Justin Bronk, told CNN that the chances of intercepting Russian cruise missiles by the Ukrainians have gone up since February.
Ukraine "badly required" advanced technologies like IRIS-T and NASAMS, Bronk stated. Ukraine will also monitor Western resolve if Russia limits energy supply.
There are many things Russia can do to make the war personal, not just for people of Ukraine but around Europe, to try to force pressure on governments to remove their support for Ukraine.
- Keir Giles said
This week's air attacks may be part of that effort; according to CNN, Ukraine's Energy Minister, Herman Halushchenko, said that 30 percent of the country's energy infrastructure was destroyed by Russian missiles on Monday and Tuesday. According to CNN, the minister said that this was the "first time since the beginning of the conflict" that Russia has "dramatically attacked" energy infrastructure.
Therefore, analysts say that the next several weeks will be pivotal not just on the battlefield but also in Europe and worldwide. Giles stated, "As always, Putin's next move will rely on the reaction of the international community." The West's inability to challenge and stop Russia has had a big effect on the way the country sees itself.
The stakes of the fight have been ratcheted up again as winter approaches. The achievements of Ukraine in recent weeks have delivered a clear message to the Kremlin. Giles advised that everyone "get accustomed to it" since "they can do things that strike us by surprise."