Russia launches largest airstrikes since start of war in Ukraine

Is the war in Ukraine at a turning point? The partial destruction of the Crimean Bridge, a symbol of Russian control over the disputed peninsula, has provoked the ire of President Vladimir Putin. His army responded by firing its worst missile salvo at Ukrainian civilians since the start of the war. What’s more, Belarus is now threatening to get involved in the fighting and open a new front.

More than 83 missiles struck across Ukraine in a matter of hours Monday morning. Of these, 43 were intercepted by Ukrainian defense systems, according to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The emergency services report a provisional toll of 11 dead and 87 injured throughout the country.

The city center of kyiv – spared since the beginning of the war – was targeted in the middle of the morning rush hour. A university, the German consulate and the head office of the Samsung company in Ukraine were notably targeted. Surprised by these massive bombardments, many Kievans found refuge in the metro stations, as in the early days of the war. The last strike on the capital took place on June 26.

In addition to kyiv, eleven major infrastructures were damaged in eight regions, said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Chmygal. The shells hit several infrastructures of the electrical network.

These power losses caused by Russia are cause for concern as winter approaches. “We are trying to demoralize the Ukrainians, but it seems that the more Russia attacks Ukraine, the more the Ukrainians stick together, show solidarity and resist”, relativizes the specialist in Russia and vice-rector of the royal military college, Pierre Sweet heart.

“Ukraine cannot be intimidated. It can only be all the more united. Ukraine cannot be stopped,” Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said in a video posted Monday on social media.

merciless struggle

The delivery of new anti-aircraft batteries was loudly demanded from the West following this new show of force.

Germany assured Monday that a first anti-aircraft defense system will be delivered “in the coming days”. This type of weapon would be able to protect an entire city.However, no air defense completely protects a territory against such attacks, especially in a vast country like Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden promised on Monday the delivery of « advanced air defense systems ».

During the day, President Zelensky spoke by telephone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He allegedly, according to his tweet, “stressed the importance of a strong G7 response against Russian terrorist missiles”.

G7 leaders have scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon with the Ukrainian president.

New warlord

This rain of shells is probably the first military decision of the new Russian warlord in Ukraine, appointed on Saturday.

« Army General Sergei Surovikin has been appointed as the commander of the combined group of troops in the area of ​​the special military operation, » the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Telegram.

Surovikin has a long military past. Aged 55, he is a veteran of the Chechen war and led the Russian intervention in Syria. This theater of war was marked by the repeated use of indiscriminate firing on civilian neighborhoods. Surovikin led until Saturday the deployment of Russian soldiers on the southern front of the conflict.

Curiously, it was this same Surovikin who physically intervened in the streets of Moscow during the failed coup of 1991. His brigade had been the only one to stop the demonstrators who were trying to overthrow the Soviet central power, just before that it does not collapse on its own.

The failed Russian military tactics in Ukraine are increasingly frustrating even the most staunch of Russians. The Kremlin is reportedly planning to replace Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Army Chief of General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov in the coming week, the Institute for the Study of Warfare noted. based on a Telegram channel from the Russian private military company Wagner.

De-escalation through escalation

Monday’s escalation of violence is Russia’s response to the partial destruction of the Crimean Bridge on Saturday. This unclaimed act of war complicates Russian military supplies on the occupied peninsula, but also takes on the appearance of an affront to Russian power.

The explosion occurred the day after Putin’s birthday, a significant detail. The latter had made this bridge one of his most important political legacies.

Monday’s bombings are therefore intended as revenge against a Ukrainian success that is as symbolic as it is strategic. « If the attempts of terrorist attacks on our territory continue, Russia’s responses will be severe, and their scale will correspond to the level of the threats posed », warned the Russian president, Monday, opening a televised meeting of the Security Council.

“We wanted to show that we still have military capabilities,” observes Professor Jolicoeur. “You can still hit where you want. […] We show that we are still in control, when deep down, we may not be completely. »

While the initiative for the escalation seems to have passed to the Ukrainian side for a few weeks, Moscow is also turning to its ally Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko, who had so far refrained from sending his troops, accused kyiv of preparing an attack against his country. Accordingly, it plans to “deploy a regional grouping of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus”.

The opening of a third front in northern Ukraine would complicate the resistance scarred by months of aggression. No proof of such a deployment has filtered so far, but for Mr. Jolicoeur, on the Russian side, « we feel a desire to make this conflict something larger than what it already is » .

With Agence France-Presse

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