Ukraine aims to create chaos within Russian forces, says Zelenskiy adviser | Ukraine


Ukraine is engaged in a counter-offensive aimed at creating “chaos within the Russian forces” by hitting the invaders’ supply lines deep in the occupied territories, according to a key adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Mykhailo Podolyak told the Guardian there could be more attacks in the “next two or three months”, similar to Tuesday’s mysterious strikes on a rail hub and air base in Crimea, as well as the attack last week against Russian warplanes at Saky airfield on the peninsula.

Russia said a fire on Tuesday sparked explosions at an ammunition depot in Crimea’s Dzhankoi district – an incident which Podolyak says is a reminder that “Russian-occupied Crimea is synonymous with warehouse explosions.” and high risk of death for invaders and thieves”.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks. They pushed Russian tourists to flee Crimea in panic. There were queues outside the station in the regional capital, Simferopol, on Tuesday.

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said it was dealing with cases of sabotage and taking “necessary measures” to prevent further episodes.

Footage claims to show an explosion at an ammunition depot in Crimea – video

Speaking from presidential offices in Kyiv, Podolyak said: “Our strategy is to destroy logistics, supply lines and ammunition depots and other objects of military infrastructure. This creates chaos within their own forces.

The adviser, often described as the country’s third most powerful figure, said Kyiv’s approach ran counter to Moscow’s use of blunt artillery power to gain territory in the region. Donbass in the east, which saw Russian troops destroy cities such as Mariupol and Sievierodonetsk in order to gain territory.

“So Russia has kind of taught everyone that a counter-offensive requires huge amounts of manpower like a giant fist and goes in one direction,” he said, but “a Ukrainian counter-offensive is very different. We are not using the tactics of the 60s and 70s, of the last century.

An infrared view of Saky Air Base after the attack. Photography: Maxar Technologies/Reuters

However, the remarks could also be interpreted as an acknowledgment that Ukraine is struggling to amass the amount of men and military equipment needed to support a full counter-offensive in the south of the country, which usually requires a superiority of three or more soldiers over one.

Instead, Ukraine attempted to cut off Kherson, the only Russian-held city on the west bank of the Dnieper, by damaging road and rail bridges with newly supplied Western rocket artillery at the point where it is no longer possible for Russia to resupply. his strengths effectively.

Podolyak requested “50, 60, 80 more” MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) in addition to an existing arsenal of about 20, 16 of which are US-supplied truck-mounted Himars. Three – the tracked M270 – came from the UK, with three more promised, which the adviser described as “very good”.

British soldiers equipped with an M270 system during a <a class=military exercise in Germany last month.” src=”” height=”4326″ width=”7209″ loading=”lazy” class=”dcr-4zleql”/>
British soldiers equipped with an M270 system during a military exercise in Germany last month. Photograph: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Aided by long-range missiles supplied by the West, Podolyak added that Ukraine hoped to downgrade the invaders’ strength through “lack of supplies and lack of ammunition” which “will cause the Russians to fight as they did. the first months of the war”. .

Early in the conflict, a disorganized Russian army failed to capture Kyiv after the invading forces got stuck in a series of traffic jams on the roads leading to the city, leaving them vulnerable to Ukrainian infantry and anti-tank weapons.

The presidential aide suggested that last week’s air base attack could have been the work of partisans, but playfully dismissed any suggestion it could have been an accident, as the suggested Moscow immediately afterwards.

Podolyak said the Russians had ‘different physics’ if they believed the blasts were the result of discarded cigarettes causing ammunition dumps to explode, before anticipating a repeat of such attacks behind lines in the future .

“I certainly agree with the Russian Defense Ministry, which predicts more such incidents in the next two, three months. I think we could see more,” Podolyak said.

Rising smoke can be seen from Saky Beach after the airbase attack.
Rising smoke can be seen from Saky Beach after the airbase attack. Photography: AP

He also reported that Ukraine considers the Crimean Bridge connecting the occupied peninsula to the Russian mainland a legitimate military target. “It is an illegal construction and the main gateway to supply the Russian army in Crimea. These objects must be destroyed,” he said.

Although Ukraine refused to publicly take responsibility for the attack on Saky air base, it did so privately, and the incident came as a series of strategic Russian targets were hit. deep behind the front line.

On Monday, there was speculation that Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman believed to be linked to the private military company Wagner, could have been injured or killed in a Ukrainian rocket strike in Donbass.

Photos published by a Russian journalist of the man’s encounter with Wagnerian mercenaries in eastern Ukraine made it easy to identify the location of the base. And on Sunday, the Mironivska building was hit by a Ukrainian artillery strike, probably from a Himars system.

Podolyak, who was a peace talks negotiator in the early stages of the conflict, said there was no prospect of Russia negotiating seriously until it suffered defeat on the battlefield. He said some unnamed European countries had “the illusion” that the Kremlin might seek good faith talks.

“Russian ears only open when a giant military bat hits the Russian head,” he said.

He praised Britain’s role in supporting Ukraine so far, which in some ways had surpassed that of the United States, and said he expected that strong support to continue. continues after the resignation of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. “You’ve become a giant – it’s hard to become a dwarf again,” he said.

Johnson had offered “personal and emotional support” to Zelenskiy in the “darkest day in Ukrainian history”, Podolyak said. The UK’s contribution will be remembered for centuries, he suggested.

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