Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Mass strikes on Ukraine are a desperate answer to Putins critics at home

Mass strikes on Ukraine are a desperate answer to Putins critics at home


Mass strikes on Ukraine are a desperate answer to Putins critics at home

The victims were ordinary Ukrainians: those who died at the busy intersection of Volodymyrska and Shevchenko streets in Kyiv, at a downtown playground, or the hundreds of thousands now in homes without light, water and heat in cities across the country due to a barrage of Russian cruise missiles.

But Vladimir Putin's "mass strikes" on Monday were also a desperate answer to his military's critics at home, to the fact that Russia's invasion is failing, and to his own wounded pride after the Crimean Bridge, a pet project, was rocked by an explosion this weekend.

"What he is doing now is trivial revenge," said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Personal revenge as well."

For months, Russian war pundits, armchair generals, military bloggers and others have been clamouring for all-out war against Ukraine. And, as the horrific images began to appear from Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro of bodies in the streets and plumes of smoke rising from city centres, they were satisfied for a moment.

"We warned you, Zelenskiy, that Russia still had not begun in earnest," wrote Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-installed head of Chechnya, who had criticised top army generals in recent weeks. "Now I'm 100% satisfied with how the [war] is being waged."

When Putin led a session of his security council on Monday, he presented the attack as a case of Russia demanding action following the explosion that rocked the Crimean Bridge, a symbol of Russian prestige and of his control of the peninsula.

"It was impossible to leave this kind of crime without any response," Putin said in televised remarks, blaming the blast on Ukrainian intelligence.

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