A Day of Bombing and Missiles
On Monday and Tuesday, the Russian military unleashed a barrage of missiles across Ukraine in retaliation to the partial destruction of the Kerch Bridge that links Crimea with Russia.
Russian ballistic and cruise missiles rained on more than 20 Ukrainian cities. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the Russian salvo included Kh-101, Kh-555, Kalibr, Iskander, S-300, and Tornado cruise and ballistic missiles that were launched from air, ground, and maritime platforms, including nuclear submarines and strategic bombers.
The Russian missiles also targeted critical infrastructure targets, leaving much of Ukraine without electricity or internet.
Despite all of their fury and anger, the strikes are a sign of an increasingly weak Russian military that has to resort to the targeting and killing of civilians because it can’t achieve anything of consequence on the battlefield.
And as a result, the Ukrainian civilians continue to endure, waiting for their military forces to prevail on the ground and end the nightmare brought by the Russian invasion.
It is clear that the strikes had no operational value whatsoever. The Ukrainian cities that were targeted are far from the frontlines, while the strikes themselves were, to a large extent, random, despite the Russian claims that they were targeted. To be sure, the Russian military has been suffering from shortages caused by the sanctions and years of corruption and mismanagement. As a result, it has to resort to using weapon systems that were designed for other purposes; for example, S-300 anti-aircraft missiles against ground targets.
So, that leaves the strategic aspect.
International and Domestic Audiences
Undoubtedly, the strikes were an attempt to show that Russia can still bite and can exact a price for attacks on important Russian targets, such as the Kerch Bridge. The Russian forces have suffered humiliating setbacks repeatedly throughout the eight-month conflict.
On a second level, the strikes were launched for as much of an international as domestic audience. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been under ever-increasing pressure as a result of the failures in Ukraine. Ultra-conservative elements in the Russian military and national security sphere are urging for an escalation in the war in response to the successes of the Ukrainian military.
The strikes, however, have drawn a lot of criticism even from countries that are still friendly to Moscow, including China and India.
As far as the West, both France and Germany have vowed to send more weapon systems to help Ukraine deal with the indiscriminate nature of Russian aggression. Germans, in particular, said that they would be sending air-defense systems.
The strikes have no effect on the course of the war as it plays out on the battlefield. And they only help to wake the Ukrainian people’s resolution to win that much stronger. It remains to be seen whether Putin and his Kremlin advisers will continue to target the innocent after every Russian military setback.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive 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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.