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Russian President Vladimir Putin turned again to his bloody, harmful playbook from Syria with a barrage of rocket assaults towards civilian targets throughout Ukraine on Monday, ramping up stress on Western allies to produce Kyiv with the air defenses it has lengthy sought.
Monday’s rush-hour bombardment on the streets of Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and different areas got here as little shock, on condition that Putin had already signaled his willingness to change to ever extra brutal techniques by appointing Sergey Surovikin, the final who oversaw Russian forces in Syria on-and-off from 2017 to 2020, as commander of his struggling struggle effort in Ukraine.
In a speech at an emergency assembly of his Nationwide Safety Council on Monday, Putin claimed the strikes got here in response to this weekend’s assault on the Kerch Bridge linking illegally occupied Crimea to Russia. Putin mentioned Russia had deployed “high-precision, long-range weapons from the air, sea and land” to ship “large assaults on targets of Ukraine’s vitality, army command and communications amenities.” He added that Russia would proceed to dole out retribution if Ukraine continued to strike so-called “Russian” territory.
Ukraine’s protection ministry mentioned 75 missiles have been launched, 41 of which have been shot down.
Moscow’s claims to precision assaults on strategic targets appeared to masks the truth that the intention was clearly to kill civilians, because the missiles struck the Shevchenkivskyi district within the coronary heart of Kyiv throughout peak morning visitors. Photos and footage taken by reporters and from safety cameras present vehicles on fireplace; a crater beside a kids’s playground within the Shevchenko Park and a pedestrian bridge destroyed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned on Telegram that Russia appeared to have two targets in its assault: vitality amenities all through the nation — and Ukrainians going about their each day lives.
“They need panic and chaos,” Zelenskyy mentioned, in a video that appeared to have been shot on his mobile phone on the streets of Kyiv. Monday’s assaults got here at a time “particularly chosen to trigger as a lot injury as doable … Why such strikes precisely? The enemy desires us to be afraid, desires to make individuals run. However we will solely run ahead — and we show this on the battlefield. It can proceed to be so.”
Zelenskyy additionally renewed his appeals to the West to supply Ukraine with extra air defenses. Kyiv has been in search of this extra firepower for weeks, arguing that Russia is prone to attempt to knock out Ukraine’s vitality and industrial infrastructure over the winter, and it has been dissatisfied by the gradual response.
In tweets, Zelenskyy mentioned he had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron within the wake of the strikes on the capital and different cities. With Macron, Zelenskyy mentioned: “We mentioned the strengthening of our air protection, the necessity for a tricky European and worldwide response, in addition to elevated stress on the Russian Federation.”
These discussions on air protection batteries at the moment are prone to loom massive on the U.S.-led Ukraine Protection Contact Group — often known as the Ramstein format — the place senior protection officers from throughout the globe will collect in Brussels later this week.
Ukraine’s Protection Minister Oleksii Reznikov mentioned on Monday: “The perfect response to Russian missile terror is the availability of anti-aircraft and anti-missile programs to Ukraine — defend the sky over Ukraine! This may defend our cities and our individuals. This may defend the way forward for Europe. Evil have to be punished.”
The butcher of Syria takes over
Surovikin was solely introduced as the brand new Russian commander for Ukraine on Saturday.
The 55-year-old normal, who earlier than his promotion had been charged with main Russia’s Southern Army District and Russian troops in Syria, has lengthy been an notorious determine with a status for being ruthless.
He was linked to the violent suppression of the anti-Soviet 1990 Dushanbe riots in Tajikistan, and was reportedly imprisoned (earlier than being freed with out cost) after troopers below his command killed three protesters in Moscow throughout the failed coup towards then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. In 1995, Surovikin obtained a suspended sentence (which was later overturned) for taking part within the unlawful arms commerce. Surovikin additionally performed a job in Russia’s second Chechen struggle, commanding the forty second Guards Motorized Rifle Division.
However Surovikin is finest identified — and most feared — for his command of Russian forces in Syria, the place Moscow intervened to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental group, listed Surovikin as one of many commanders “who might bear command duty” for human rights violations throughout the 2019-2020 offensive in Syria’s Idlib province, when Syrian and Russian forces launched dozens of air and floor assaults on civilian targets and infrastructure, putting houses, colleges, well being care amenities and markets.
It was not the primary time Russian forces have been accused of struggle crimes in Syria. The Kremlin’s troops, working with Syrians, undertook a month-long bombing marketing campaign of opposition-controlled territory in Aleppo in 2016, killing a whole lot of civilians, together with 90 kids, with indiscriminate airstrikes, cluster munitions and incendiary weapons hitting civilian targets together with medical amenities.
Now, with Russian forces on the again foot in Ukraine and Putin’s full-throated rhetoric out of step with the scenario on the bottom in his struggle, Surovikin seems to be turning to his previous tactic of inflicting large injury on civilians in an try to show the tide of the struggle.
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