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Russia-Ukraine Colors

Ukraine’s ability to launch attacks deep within Russian territory are vital if the Ukrainian military’s counteroffensive is to stand any chance of liberating its territory from Russian occupation.

In recent days, Ukraine has launched a series of drone attacks against Russian targets, including two drone strikes against a skyscraper in central Moscow and an attempted drone strike against Russian naval ships in the Black Sea.


The skyscraper, which houses teams from Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, and Ministry of Industry and Trade, was the target of drone strikes on two consecutive days.

Russian security officials claimed that several Ukrainian drones had been shot down by the country’s air defences, but two of the aircraft succeeded in striking the target. The attacks briefly prompted the closure of Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, while staff working at the skyscraper were ordered to work from home.

Russia also claimed that three Ukrainian sea drones were destroyed while trying to attack Russian naval ships in the Black Sea.

While Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, they are very much in line with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent warning that, 18 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the war was now coming back to Russia. Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the drone attacks on Moscow, Zelensky said attacks on Russian territory were an “inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process” of the war between the two countries.

Ukrainian forces have launched dozens of attacks against targets located within Russian territory since the start of the year, including an alleged assassination attempt against Putin during a drone strike on the Kremlin in May.

Unlike Russia, which has regularly launched attacks against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure in an attempt to demoralise the Ukrainian people, Ukraine’s attacks have been primarily focused on targeting Russian military assets, such as communications hubs and arms depots in an effort to undermine the effectiveness of Moscow’s war-fighting capabilities, a perfectly legitimate undertaking under the laws of modern warfare.

Even so, the Ukrainian military’s growing willingness to attack targets inside Russian territory is causing deep unease among some of Kyiv’s Western allies, especially in Washington, where the Biden administration seems obsessed with preventing the Ukrainians from taking any action that might upset Putin.

From the start of the conflict, President Joe Biden has been reluctant to respond positively to Zelensky’s calls to be provided with more sophisticated weaponry for fear of provoking an escalation in the conflict between Russia and the West. This has resulted in delays in providing much-needed tanks and other heavy armour as well as warplanes.

While the White House has been reluctantly persuaded to give the go-ahead for Kyiv to be provided this equipment, the Biden administration remains reluctant to provide any kit that the Ukrainians could use to attack targets inside Russia.

The latest example of the administration’s squeamishness about providing Ukraine with the means to take the fight into Russian territory was its recent decision to block the delivery of the US Army’s long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Kyiv.

Expectations that Washington would send the weapons to Ukraine were raised in May when Biden said that the technology was “still in play”, and the president is said to have discussed the issue of providing the weapons at the recent Nato summit in Vilnius.

According to the Washington Post, the administration has now ruled out sending the missiles on the grounds that it could deplete US missile stocks, and also fears that the conflict could escalate out of control if Ukraine fired the weapons into Russian territory.

Biden’s failure to provide Ukraine with the weapons it requires to prevail on the battlefield, including the ability to attack targets inside Russian territory, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of what is at stake in this dreadful conflict, namely the future security of the Western alliance.

A Ukrainian victory would not only inflict a devastating defeat on Putin and his authoritarian regime, it would send a signal to other autocratic regimes that they threaten the West and allies, such as Taiwan, at their peril.

Rather than pulling their punches, which is the Biden administration’s current approach, the US and its allies should be straining every sinew to ensure that Zelensky has all the means at his disposal to achieve total victory over his Russian adversary.

The weakness of Putin’s domestic position, moreover, in the wake of the failed Wagner Group’s coup against Moscow is another factor that the Biden administration needs to take into account as they weigh up their options over Ukraine.

Another concern that is inhibiting the Biden administration’s handling of the Ukraine crisis are fears that if Putin is removed from power, he could be replaced by an ultra-nationalist who would make the threat Russia poses to global security even worse — an eventuality that is bound to happen at some point and, to a strong US government, should probably be irrelevant.

There are also concerns about Moscow’s constant threats to revert to nuclear weapons, even though this nothing more than a dangerous bluff on the part of the Kremlin, as China – among others – has made it clear it would not tolerate the use of such weapons. And without Chinese backing, Russia’s predicament would be far worse.

Rather than exploring the possibility of negotiating a peace deal with Moscow, one that would inevitably betray Ukraine’s sovereign integrity, Biden should be redoubling Washington’s efforts to make sure that Putin’s chances of surviving in power once the war is over are non-existent.

(Con Coughlin is the Telegraph‘s Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute)

{Reposted from Gatestone Insitute}




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