This edition of the weekly review, prepared by the Information Defense experts, covers the following issues:
Why has Russia resorted to massive missile terror against Ukraine?
Will the Ukrainian air defense system be built?
Are our partners interested in a robust response to Vladimir Putin’s missile onslought?
On Oct. 10, Russian aggressors launched a massive attack with 84 missiles and 24 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on peaceful cities and villages across Ukraine. It was the first time Kyiv had been targeted in months.
The air defense forces managed to shoot down 43 missiles and 13 drones. A total of 19 people died and 105 were injured, while 4,000 settlements were left without heat and light.
What goals did Russian President Vladimir Putin set for himself when he returned to the tactics of major missile terror?
Goal one: To return Ukraine to the Middle Ages and destroy our critical civilian infrastructure (including our thermal and hydroelectric plants, heat networks and power lines) and eventually “freeze” us.
According to the enemy’s calculations, systemic damage to critical infrastructure should lead to a decrease in the stability of the country’s defense. They believe it should create problems with logistics, the supply of weapons and fuel to the front, and the maneuvering of reserves. And their most important aim is to bring cold and darkness to the homes of peaceful Ukrainians.
But the enemy made a mistake. Thanks to the hard work of our energy workers, it was possible to eliminate the damage in a few days. In addition, backups of Ukraine’s energy system, facilitated in Soviet times, played an important role.
On Oct. 17, further attacks by UAVs were reported across Ukraine, but our spirit remains unbroken and many were shot down.
Goal two: To break the Ukrainian nation, and to sow panic and distrust among civilians of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) and the government.
In 1921, the Italian General Giulio Douhet published his book “The Command of the Air,” in which he argued that any military conflict could be won by launching massive airstrikes to psychologically pressurize the population and force them to surrender. But World War II proved that his concept was wrong.
Massive air raids by the Luftwaffe between July and October 1940 during the Battle of Britain did not force the British to surrender and conduct peace negotiations. The British fought and won with their spirit intact.
We, Ukrainians, stand firm and will not let our spirit be broken. Instead of panic and despair, Putin received multi-million curses from my compatriots and an ever-increasing hatred towards “Rashists.”
Goal 3: To placate Kremlin critics within Russia
Recently, Putin’s position among the elite and cheering patriots has significantly weakened. Representatives of the Russian political class asked a natural question: What happened to the capture of Kyiv in three days and the promised quick victory? Instead, Russian billionaires received sanctions, confiscation of property and problems inside Russia.
Russian patriots considered Putin’s actions insufficiently tough, sluggish and toothless. They demanded another escalation of military operations, strikes on decision-making centers and critical infrastructure facilities.
The situation became especially acute after the destruction of the Crimean bridge, which was not the cause, but only a convenient propaganda pretext, for mass rocket attacks last week.
In this way, the Kremlin dictator managed to somewhat calm the elites’ hysteria. However, it is clear that Putin could not completely neutralize the underlying causes of the growing crisis.
With further successes of the UAF, crisis phenomena among the Russian elite will only grow. Sooner or later, this will lead to high-ranking Russian officials or businessmen questioning Putin’s authority.
Putin as anti-Midas
According to an ancient Greek legend, the gods gave King Midas a fabulous ability: everything he touched turned to gold. Putin, on the contrary, has a remarkable feature for Ukrainians: he is the anti-Midas. Everything he touches turns to junk – its opposite.
He spoke against the expansion of NATO right up to his launch of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Consequently, Finland and Sweden applied for membership, which will lead to a lengthening of the NATO-backed land border with Russia by 2,000 kilometers. He set the task of occupying Kyiv in three days, yet the UAF won a brilliant victory near Kharkiv. The list goes on.
That’s how it turned out this time. Instead of panic and the destruction of Ukraine’s defense potential as a result of a massive missile attack, Putin generated a qualitative increase in military aid to our country and the recognition of Russia as a terrorist state.
Recently, meetings in the Rammstein format turned into a routine during which the logistics of arms supplies to Ukraine were ensured according to a well-planned scheme. The main political decisions around “what and when to deliver” were made in advance in the capitals of leading Western states, and were only voiced during the communication between the defense ministers of 50 countries that support Ukraine.
But, thanks to the nefarious actions of the Kremlin, Rammstein-6 decisions were made that qualitatively change the system of arms supplies to Ukraine.
First, the old taboos regarding air defense systems, which were previously supplied in very limited quantities, have been lifted.
It is not only about increasing the supply of the number of air defense divisions and expanding the range of supplies (even the supply of super modern Patriot systems was discussed). We are in fact talking about the creation of a nationwide integrated air defense system in Ukraine, the batteries of which will overlap one other, using systems of echeloned combat against air targets of short, medium and long range. Thus, our partners are ready to help in creating reliable protection of our settlements – our “Iron Dome” made of Azovsteel steel – not in the distant future, but right now.
Second, if our partner countries were previously very careful and restrained about the intensification of military and technical assistance to Ukraine, then during the most recent meeting of the defense ministers, they were much more enthusiastic about new opportunities to supply weapons to our country.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed a new Decree on aid to Ukraine to the tune of $725 million. Poland handed over 150 Starlink terminals to Ukraine; Portugal, six Soviet rotorcraft; Spain, four Hawk air defense systems; and the U.K. missiles for NASAMS air defense equipment. Even careful probing of the topic of supplying German Leopards, which was previously unacceptable to all, has been initiated.
Ukraine needs modern equipment and weapons to win. We once again tell our partners – provide us with weapons and the UAF will do the rest themselves.
Russia is a terrorist state
On the foreign policy front, Russia also received quite sensitive blows. French President Emmanuel Macron said for the first time that Ukraine should restore its borders to their 1991 positions.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recognized the Russian Federation as a country with a terrorist regime. Some 99 deputies voted “for” and one abstained. PACE is therefore the first international organization to recognize Russia as a terrorist country.
It is also noteworthy that the PACE document was amended with a call to provide Ukraine with air defense equipment.
Furthermore, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution condemning Russia’s holding of fake pseudo-referenda in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. We were supported by 143 of the 193 UNGA member countries. Only four countries – Russia’s traditional satellites of Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Nicaragua – voted against it.
The importance of the resolutions of international organizations should not be underestimated. That said, those resolutions are words on a page – not bullets in a gun.
Each attack that Russia misses on the foreign policy front is a brick in the foundation of our future victory and the new architecture of world security – one where Ukraine will continue to play a role.
Ihor Zhdanov is a co-founder of the Open Policy Foundation, a National Government Organization (NGO) in Ukraine.
The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.
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