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Putin’s Horror Show Strategy to Crush Ukraine: Shell the Cities (and Innocent)

Russia Ukraine Bucha
Russian T-80 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On day 24 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces are now pursuing a war of attrition. The Russian advance has stalled, and Ukrainian forces have even started counterattacking in places.

The Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities continues, with Mariupol in the south hit the hardest.

Ukraine: From Blitzkrieg to Attrition 

In its latest evaluation of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian forces are shifting their operational approach from a quick seizure of key territory to attrition. Whereas at the beginning of the war, the Russian troops were careful not to destroy infrastructure or alienate the Ukrainian people, now they are leveling entire cities to the ground with indiscriminate shelling.

“The Kremlin has so far failed to achieve its original objectives. It has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of [the] Ukrainian Resistance. Russia has been forced to change its operational approach and is now pursuing a strategy of attrition. This is likely to involve the indiscriminate use of firepower resulting in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, and intensify the humanitarian crisis. Putin has reinforced his control over Russian domestic media. The Kremlin is attempting to control the narrative, detract from operational problems and obscure high Russian casualty numbers from the Russian people,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 14,400 Russian troops (and approximately thrice that number wounded), destroyed 95 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 115 helicopters, 466 tanks, 213 artillery pieces, 1,470 armored personnel carriers, 72 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), three boats, 914 vehicles, 60 fuel tanks, 44 anti-aircraft batteries, 17 unmanned aerial systems, and 11 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles.

Western intelligence estimates put the number of Russian troops killed in action at around 8,000. Considering that for every soldier killed in action, there are two or three wounded, the invading Russian forces have lost up to 24,000 troops, or 10 percent of their total combat power before the war.

To make up for the losses, Moscow has been trying to recruit Syrian mercenaries. A few days ago, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that more than 16,000 pro-Assad Syrians were eager to deploy to Ukraine. But U.S. assessments contradict that claim.

“We see little evidence of recruiting in Syria to bring people back to Ukraine. Not saying it couldn’t happen and I’m not saying that one or two or three or four haven’t gone but we haven’t seen any large-scale effort to do that,” General Frank McKenzie. General McKenzie, the commander of U.S Central Command (CENTCOM), said in a press briefing.

Long-Range Fires and The Absent Russian Air Force 

A Russian rocket strike on a Ukrainian military base in Mykolaiv, in Southern Ukraine, on Thursday killed more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers, according to a senior Ukrainian military official.

Although the Russian Aerospace Force has failed to achieve air dominance over the Ukrainian skies, its stand-off munition capabilities in the form of cruise missiles mean that the Russian military can hit targets deep within Ukrainian territory and from ranges beyond the Ukrainian air-defense umbrella.

But the opposite side of this coin means that Russian aircraft will not be able to operate freely over certain parts of Ukraine should their long-range missiles run out. According to the Pentagon, Russia has already launched over 1,000 ballistic and cruise missiles of all types against Ukrainian targets.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.