The Kremlin admits that the “military operation” has not yet achieved its goals…and links the use of nuclear weapons to an “existential threat”
The developments in the war in Ukraine in the last hours are an indication that it has entered a new phase, the exact results of which cannot be predicted, in light of the Russian army’s failure to achieve its goals, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted.
The confirmation of the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) on what was announced by Ukraine, that some units of its army began launching counter-attacks on Russian forces, especially in the vicinity of the capital Kyiv, and the assertion of an American defense official that the Russian Air Force increased its attacks in the last hours, to reinforce expectations Experts believe that the war is on its way to turning into a prolonged quagmire, which would confuse Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calculations, with its high human and economic cost to his country.
Ukrainian forces have announced that they have regained control of a strategically important town outside Kyiv, a recent sign that they may overcome weeks of Russian efforts to seize the capital as the Kremlin intensifies its attacks across the country. However, it remains unclear how long a beleaguered Ukraine can hold its own in the lopsided battle against a major nuclear power, bent on capturing the capital and major cities, especially coastal ones. As US President Joe Biden prepares to bolster solidarity with Europeans this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his pleas for more Western military support, warning that Russia’s ambitions “go beyond the occupation of his country.” The Pentagon confirmed that the battlefield has not changed significantly from what it was weeks ago, as a rise in the death toll was recorded with the continued artillery bombardment of many Ukrainian cities, which led to the destruction of infrastructure and the terrorizing of civilians. This is particularly true of the besieged port city of Mariupol, which has experienced some of the worst violence since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. But even as the Kremlin stepped up its attacks, the Ukrainian resistance appeared to be holding up, at least for the time being. A Pentagon defense official said that Ukrainian forces continued to repel Russian attempts to invade the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, from the northwest, about 15 km away, and from the east, about 30 km away. He added that there were no “real changes by the Russians on the ground near Kyiv.” He said that the Pentagon has data indicating that the Ukrainian forces have become more qualified for counter-attacks against Russian forces, not only in the vicinity of the capital, Kyiv, but also in other regions. The official said the United States also estimates that the Russians have fired more than 1,100 missiles since the invasion of Ukraine. He added that the Russians are trying to disembark from Kharkiv, in the direction of Izyum, to the southeast of Kharkiv, which is believed to be an attempt to cut off the area of operations of the joint forces, which is mainly Donbass. “This is one reason, not the only reason,” he said, “and we think they are very interested in Mariupol so that they can go up from the south and from the north from Izyum,” where the Ukrainians are fighting hard to retake the city from the Russians. “We noticed during the past hours that the Russians were probably firing from the Sea of Azov, to the south of Mariupol, and they had ships in the Sea of Azov, and we believe that they were bombing the city, and this was not the case yesterday,” he said. “We continue to monitor a number of Russian forces inside the city,” he said. We believe that at least some of the separatist forces came from the Donbass. The Ukrainians are fighting hard to prevent Mariupol from falling.” The Ministry of Defense has assessed for the first time that Russian force has fallen to just under 90 percent of the available estimated combat force level. A defense official said the number included the Russian combat force assembled in Belarus before the invasion, but was not an assessment of all of Russia’s military strength. “So far, there are no concrete indications of the arrival of Russian reinforcements or the arrival of foreign fighters in the country,” he added. “We estimate that the Wagner Group is active in Ukraine, and we believe that the activity is largely taking place in the Donbass region,” he said. “We continue to see indications of having these discussions about reinforcements and foreign fighters making these kinds of plans, both in terms of resupply as well as reinforcements. It’s just that we haven’t really seen that happen.” Despite the Pentagon’s assurances that “there has not been a significant change in the airspace,” the defense official said the Russian Air Force has boosted the number of operations it conducts daily by 50 percent, deploying an increasing array of drones and military munitions. This comes despite the United States and its allies sending thousands of man-portable air defense systems to Ukraine and being able to shoot down many aircraft early in the war. Analysts said the missiles forced Russia to adjust its air operations, but did not stop it. The defense official added that Russia carried out about 300 sorties in the past 24 hours, up from an average of about 200 sorties in previous days. Analysts noted that the increase in Russian air operations could likely be attributed to several factors, including Ukraine’s concentration of its high-precision air defenses in a few locations, including the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, the second largest city, which left Russia free to operate. An increasing number of air strikes are being carried out around the southern port city of Mariupol, where the fighting continues, and Russia has its sights set on what may be its first strategic victory of the war. And Ukraine’s huge quantities of MANPADS have now created challenges for Russia in using low-flying helicopters and jets. But these planes seem to have adapted, often launching attacks from outside Ukraine’s air defenses. The US defense official said that “a significant number” of Russian air operations in the war are carried out from outside Russian or Belarusian airspace. He added that Russia launched air strikes several times on Ukraine from outside Ukrainian airspace, including launching “Cruise” missiles from long-range bombers, such as the one that targeted a training center in Yavoriv, western Ukraine, stressing that other Russian planes are venturing into the airspace. Ukrainian for short periods only.
In addition, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that Russia has not yet achieved any of its military objectives in Ukraine. In an interview with CNN, Peskov did not rule out that his country would consider using nuclear weapons if it was exposed to what he called an “existential threat.” Regarding the goals that Moscow achieved in Ukraine after about a month of fighting, Peskov replied: “Well, not yet. It has not yet been achieved.” He claimed that the “special military operation”, the term the Kremlin uses to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is conducted strictly according to predetermined plans and purposes. He added that Russia only attacked military targets, despite numerous reports of Russian air strikes against civilian targets. When asked about the circumstances that could compel President Putin to use the Russian nuclear capability, Peskov said: “If this represents an existential threat to our country, it can happen.” President Vladimir Putin had hinted at the use of nuclear weapons against countries that he considered a “threat” to Russia. Last month, he said: “No matter who tries to stand in our way, or create threats to our country and people, they should know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be as you have not seen them before,” which was considered a threat to his lack of hesitation in using nuclear weapons, Or at least tactical of it.