Conflict Alerts # 526, 29 June 2022
In the news
On 26 and 27 June, Russia launched a range of missiles across parts of Ukraine including Yavoriv, Zhytomyr, Mykolaiv, Lysychansk, and Desna. The Russian forces were observed to have carried out the airstrikes from bombers in Belarusian airspace, through warships in the Black Sea, and via flying aircraft from the Caspian Sea.
On 27 June, Ukrainian intelligence reported that Russia had used six Tu-22M3s to bomb to launch the attacks in the northern part of Ukraine.
On 29 June, the Russian defence ministry claimed that the strikes took place in Ukraine but denied accepting the death of the civilians, as it viewed it as a “military target.”
Issues at large
First, attacks in Kyiv. The attacks are observed to be coordinated by massive missile strikes which also coincides with the G7 summit. Russia had previously attacked Kyiv in April and this renewed attempt of attacks can be either part of Moscow’s new strategy to capture Kyiv again or as a diversion to carry out its evacuation and proceed with capturing Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donbas regions.
Second, Russia’s strategies versus its objective. Till now there has been no clarity on Russia’s objective toward the Ukraine war. Through its on-ground developments, the UK ministry of defence and the US intelligence has traced it to be encircling Luhansk and Donbas upon failure to gain ground in the West. As far as the objectives, one of Russia’s key demands was to keep Ukraine away from NATO. However, with war escalations leading to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, NATO is closer than ever for Russia. Its key objective has backfired. Hence Russia has been trying to role-play by cutting its energy supplies to Europe, tightening its economy.
Third, operation tactics. Russia faces challenges on the ground such as mobilizing resources, recouping new weapons, and ensuring the availability of equipment at the right time for the forces. It has recently concentrated on using various new tactics such as covert mobilization, and Frankenstein forces, who are the remaining soldiers from diverse areas, called to form a combat group. Apart from the two, the Tupolev Tu-22M, a long-range bomber that was produced in mass numbers during the 1970s and has now gained a comeback in the Ukraine war.
First, Russia’s strategy towards Europe. With NATO allies increasing on one hand and the EU granting candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, Russia can turn more aggressive towards Europe. It had earlier warned about the possibility of using nuclear weapons if needed. The involvement of NATO in northern Europe and the Baltic, will lead to an advanced war involving more powerful weapon systems. Russia also can crunch Europe economically as it is more costly and logistically challenging for the latter to import gas and oil from alternate sources.
Second, Russia’s strategy towards Ukraine. Russian forces will continue to succeed in territorial gains slowly and are expected to launch more attacks from the west of Izyum to cut down the Ukrainian offensives. This is to ensure the inverted “c” regions, Donbas and Luhansk, are fully brought under Russia’s control. In the coming months, Russia might draw a new boundary dividing the western and eastern Ukraine.