Putin seeks escalation with Ukraine missile blitz: Experts

PARIS: With Russia shoot a rain of rockets at Ukraine on Monday and Belarus made new threats against President Kyiv Vladimir Putin Western analysts say they are looking to escalate the nearly eight-month war and make up for the recent humiliating losses.
According to Ukrainian authorities, 41 of the 75 missiles were intercepted, but the rest hit cities around the country, including the capital Kyiv and western Lviv near the border with Poland.
Putin warned Ukraine that he was ready to allow “more serious” attacks, while Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that “the first episode has been broadcast. There will be others.”
UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned the airstrikes as “another unacceptable escalation” while French leader Emmanuel Macron called them “a profound change in the nature of the conflict”. this war.”
Analysts said the attacks appeared to be a response to an explosion Saturday on the Kerch bridge linking occupied Crimea with Russia, which was personally inaugurated by Russia Putin in 2018.
Yordan Bozhilov, director of the Sofia Security Forum of the Bulgarian think-tank, called the explosion that dropped one of the passages “the first personal humiliation to Putin”.
The attack – which is not claimed by Ukraine but is immediately blamed on Kyiv by Russia – comes after the main battleground for the Russian military has revolved around Lyman in northeastern Ukraine and Kherson in the south in recent weeks. this.
Wojciech Lorenz, head of the international security program at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, said: “Russia has proven that it can still escalate conflict, but it can only escalate by attacking today. more civilian targets.
“The Russian regime has come under pressure from its own propagandists and some opinion-makers to demonstrate that it can respond to Ukraine’s insults,” he told AFP.
Belarusian leader Alexander LukashenkoA close ally of Putin, also issued new threats to Kyiv on Monday, raising fears that he may be preparing to join Russia’s attack on its neighbour.
Lukashenko allowed Russia to use his territory but refused to send troops directly into the war.
He said on Monday that he had agreed to deploy “a regional group” that would combine the Russian and Belarusian militaries but did not say where they would be sent.
William Alberque, a military expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, said: “I have doubts about Belarus’ involvement in the conflict. The Belarusian military is mainly engaged. engaged in the oppression of their own people”.
Lorenz said he was also skeptical of Belarus’ direct involvement, but he said that “Ukraine will have to devote some resources to defending its borders.”
“It is better to concentrate those resources in the east (against Russia) without having to reserve thousands of troops in the west and north,” he said.
The heavily armed Belarus for greater engagement, nuclear threats and increasing brutality of attacks on Ukraine is seen as one of the few available options for Putin in the short term. as he sought to change the dynamics on the battlefield.
Alberque sees Monday’s missile attacks as part of Putin’s strategy to put pressure on Ukraine and the West.
He said: “Russia has entered a cycle of shock and violence. Russia started with mobilization and annexation, then nuclear threats and now indiscriminate attacks. yards aimed at civilians”.
Despite recent setbacks, Putin officially annexed four regions of Ukraine at the end of September and ordered a partial mobilization of up to 300,000 people.
Bozhilov from the Sofia Security Forum added: “Putin is trying to both put pressure on Ukrainian society by destroying power plants and civil infrastructure, and put pressure on Western countries at the same time. , trying to undermine their unity”.
The attacks on civilians also helped him “describe himself as someone who is ready for anything.”
However, Lorenz stressed that large-scale missile strikes such as those seen on Monday cannot be repeated often by Russian forces and Western nations that currently have the ability to strengthen their defense systems. Ukraine’s air force to help defend major cities.
“Russia’s precision strike capabilities are limited, and because of international sanctions, it can quickly rebuild them,” he said.
“It can flaunt its force, but since its resources are exhausted, it’s just a move.”


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