Russia has increased pressure on Ukraine by firing rockets at Kyiv. According to Russian information, tanks and other military equipment supplied by Eastern European countries were destroyed. In addition, a meeting of the Ukrainian artillerymen training center in Western weapons techniques was held on Saturday near Sumy. Benno Zogg from the ETH Zurich Center for Security Studies on the strategic importance of such attacks.
Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich
Open the people box. Close the people box
Benno Zogg conducts research at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich on security policy with particular emphasis on Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia.
SRF News: Early Sunday morning, the Russian army launched its first major attack on Kyiv in weeks. What is Russia going to do about it?
Benno Zogg: The missile attack probably had two goals. On the one hand, symbolic to remind Ukraine that despite the partial withdrawal of Russian troops and the failure of the first phase of the war, the Russian army still has the ability to strike anywhere in Ukraine at any time. This is to intimidate Ukraine.
Stopping Western military supplies is the key to undermining Ukraine’s combat capabilities at the front.
Second, the missiles appear to have targeted supply lines important to Ukraine. The Kremlin has always said it considers Western military material supply lines to be legitimate targets. It is not known whether the target may even be supply convoys outside Ukraine.
Weapons supplied by the West were intentionally destroyed during the attacks. Could this tactic work for Russia?
Stopping Western military supplies is the key to undermining Ukraine’s combat capabilities at the front. Western support maintains the resistance as the Ukrainian defense industry is largely destroyed and its arsenal exhausted.
Analysts were surprised that Russia’s long-range weapons did not focus more on supply lines in Ukraine. This reluctance may be due to the lack of precise weapons in the Russian arsenal and poor situational awareness. Ukraine has certainly diversified its supply routes and perhaps also transports materials and troops on a smaller scale so as not to be an easy target.
Legend: There are heavy explosions in Kiev early in the morning. The mayor, Vitaly Klitschko, wrote in Telegram that it had happened in Darnica and Dnipro districts. (June 5, 2022) Reuters
In recent weeks, the Russian army has focused on southern and eastern Ukraine. Does the attack on Kyiv mean a change of strategy?
The military objectives of the Russian troops remain in southern and eastern Ukraine. It was necessary because the offensive in the first phase was unsuccessful and the attack on Kyiv was interrupted. The severance of supply lines to this front is intended to directly support the Russian attack.
Air raids in Ukraine are nothing new. It is therefore not a Russian change of strategy.
We remember that the Russian troops themselves felt the importance of the supply lines as they got bogged down in attacks in the North and Northeast. However, air raids all over Ukraine are nothing new. Consequently, this is not a Russian change of strategy, a slight change of tactics at best.
Benno Zogg on Russia’s overarching goal
Open the box. Close the box
“The narrow military goals that are currently being pursued must be distinguished from Russia’s political and strategic goals. They also provide for the weakening of the whole of Ukraine and its submission to Russian influence. The central question for the Kremlin is not whether certain cities or square kilometers in the Donbas can be seized, but whether Ukraine can be subjected to a Russian dictatorship in one way or another in the long term. The compromises were actually quite close, but at the moment the military logic still prevails. “
A real city war is raging in eastern Ukraine. What can reverse the course of events?
In the east of Ukraine, there is a struggle for almost every meter. Both sides rely on great firepower. Russia in particular is inclined to turn entire cities into rubble and ashes. Fighting between houses is considered a particularly costly form of combat that gives the defender an advantage. Therefore, from the Russian point of view, this is avoided as much as possible. It is difficult to imagine a decisive turn in eastern Ukraine. Rather, there is a logic of wasting, which can be long and painful.
Laura Sibold conducted a written interview.