Centre for Defence Strategies

The massive missile attack on Ukraine is not related to the Crimean bridge, it is related to the general situation on the front line

Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Chairman of the Center for Defense Strategies

More now on the Russian missile attacks on Ukraine. Emergency services saying 19 people were killed, 105 others injured. Joining me now is Andre’s apparat a new, the former Ukrainian defense minister, now chairman of the center of defense strategy and distinguished fellow at the Atlantic council. Thanks very much for joining us.

Thank you.

So, when Ukrainian forces destroyed rushes only bridge to Crimea on Saturday, there were calls from prominent Russians for a fierce retaliation. Did anyone within Ukraine’s defense forces see this coming, this barrage of missiles striking across the country?

Absolutely, we seen this. But not related to the Crimean bridge. But related to the general situation on the frontline. Because Russia showing this as retaliation for the bridge. But in reality, they have been preparing for these attacks for sometime ago. And it is related to substantial losses they have on the frontline and substantial withdrawal of forces from a number of regions. So we cannot connect everything of yesterday to one particular situation and one particular bridge. We need to look wider than that.

Despite the fact that morale in the Russian military is low, despite the fact that Ukrainians have been able to push back and regain territory, these missile strikes certainly demonstrate that Russia can still cause misery across the country. How does Ukraine intend to respond.

We will respond only possible way. We’ll be continuing our counter offensive. And we will be liberating are villages and such. Because that is all we need. We need Ukraine to be free. What happened with the bridge, the we had a massive military meeting, because obviously it was a lifeline for the supplying of the Russian troops in Crimea, which itself is used as a staging area to feed the forces of themselves with the equipment, ammunition, and additional manpower, and so on. So, all we do is continue our campaign for liberating Ukraine with the military force.

U.S. President Biden spoke with your president Zelenskyy, promising advance air defenses. Any indication on when you expect to receive those, and how much impact as they have? Because I understand the national advance service air missile systems already committed could engage with the Russian cruise missiles.

Yeah, yes, so they can protect some of the cities, particularly the ones that suffer the most from almost daily attacks, like everyone’s talking about yesterday’s attack, because they’ve been visual, and you know, everybody knows about them. But just today, for example, Russians shoot at Zaporizhzhia again in the morning. So, we need to understand that things like that happen daily. Kharkiv as being bombed daily, that freezing about daily, so the cities we need to protect as much as possible. And those systems will be very effective.

Yeah, as you say, it’s certainly on Monday there were many attacks across those eight different regions, that of course those attacks, especially in Zaporizhzhia continue. Just, the major attack we saw on Monday though across so many cities across Ukraine was the most expensive attack since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. And it came just days after Russia announced a new commander to the war in Ukraine, general Sergey Surovikin, who of course has a reputation for being ruthless on the war in Syria. What do you know about him and how do you think he’ll shape what happens next?

He has experience in Syria but he has been commanding substantial forces before. Obviously he, he has some experience but we don’t think fundamentally the Russia fight will change. And also the fact that they’re brutal, they’ve already been appointing some brutal commanders before. That we had a commander previously, who had a searing record and known for bombing forces in Syria. But we need to say that the general approach to bombing civilian infrastructure and energy infrastructure and civilian buildings is something which Russians have been doing for some sign. Just have to remind that they destroyed the whole city of Mariupol, which at some point in time had 500,000 inhabitants, so it’s not something radically new will see. Also, Russian armies are extremely radical and democratic and centralized. So, the principles on which it’s built, will remain because that they want to be able to change it with one commander to its something which has been built for years.

So, I think we will see continuation of the topic we are seeing now.