Russia has responded to Saturday’s attack on the Crimean bridge by firing missiles at Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. According to the authorities, the center of the capital was hit, as well as Lviv, Dnipro, Khmelnytskyi and Zhytomyr among others. Almost the entire country was on air alert. Commentators analyze the situation.

Today, Europe’s press debates the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are some opinions from a selection of European publications, presented by eurotopics.

Retaliation will target civilian infrastructure

Russia will now carry out even more strikes on civilian targets, fears Jutarnji list:

“These attacks herald a new phase of the war, with Russia attacking civilians far from the front line, spreading panic and fear as winter approaches and the people struggle with flooding and cold nights. Last month, Russian artillery hit power stations in Kharkiv, Zmiiv, Pavlohrad and Kremenchuk, leaving hundreds of thousands in eastern and central Ukraine without electricity. Russian troops also destroyed the dam in Kryvyi Rih, President Zelensky’s hometown, and cut off electricity and water to the north-eastern Kharkiv region several times.”

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A heavy blow for Putin

The severely damaged bridge is a symbol, writes Russian security policy expert Mark Galeotti in The Sunday Times:

“The bridge symbolised the reunification of Crimea with Russia. It may not have been destroyed, but Putin had closely identified himself with the bridge, driving the first lorry over the roadway when it was opened. Thus this is a blow not just to Russian national pride, but also very specifically to Putin’s. … Even more than the sinking of the Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva in April [it] provides a very visual marker of the Kremlin’s setbacks.”

Patriot Missiles and Leopard Tanks In Spain’s Upcoming Aid Package for Ukraine
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Patriot Missiles and Leopard Tanks In Spain’s Upcoming Aid Package for Ukraine

Spain said the package, including 155mm artillery shells or missiles for the Patriot system alongside other modern equipment, will arrive by the end of June.

Nothing will come of the “eternal connection”

Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis [the highest executive-representative body of the Crimean Tatars], assesses the consequences on NV:

“Those who have settled illegally in Crimea are panicking because this is not just any explosion but one on a bridge that Putin and others said was a symbol of Ukrainian Crimea’s ‘eternal connection’ with Russia. It looks like that all came to nothing. … Until yesterday, a second wave of mobilisation had been expected across Crimea. Now we’ll see what happens after this explosion, because the logistics in all directions have been rendered very complicated. And this is especially true for military logistics from the territory of the occupying country to the territory of occupied Crimea.”

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Not decisive

Ilta-Sanomat examines the significance of the Crimean bridge:

“Besides the emotional impact, the attack on the bridge is almost certainly of major military significance since it represents – or at least has represented – a strategically important supply link for Russia from its own territory to Crimea and the war zones in southern Ukraine. … But even the destruction of an important bridge will not lead to Ukraine regaining control of Crimea, nor will it decide the outcome of the fighting in the Kherson region, let alone the outcome of the war.”

Moving closer to nuclear war?

The growing pressure on Putin is making the threat of him using nuclear firepower more and more real, Népszava fears:

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“Putin is slowly running out of military options: He has neither enough weapons nor enough soldiers. It is now obvious that the Russian army will not defeat Ukraine by conventional means. It’s even questionable whether it can retain the territories it has conquered so far. The failure has created a hyper-nationalist opposition demanding the use of a nuclear bomb – two more weeks and Putin will seem like a dove of peace compared to them.”

Don’t close off all bridges for negotiations

Público warns against destroying all possibility of peace negotiations:

“Crimea could be a potential concession in the difficult task of finding a way to peace that is not a total and crushing humiliation for Putin. Incidentally, the discussion about the need to find a way out of this has resurfaced in recent days, fuelled by Putin’s renewed nuclear threat. …We must not see this increasingly isolated Russia as the ‘incarnation of evil’, otherwise it will be impossible to build bridges for negotiating a way out.”

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