Ukraine says Russian officers killed in Melitopol attack

Ukraine says Russian officers killed in Melitopol attack

Ukrainian partisans killed three Russian officers in a bomb attack over the weekend, military authorities said, a sign that Kiev is escalating its harassment of Moscow’s forces in the absence of decisive territorial progress on the battlefield.

Ukrainian forces operating behind enemy lines have also staged two assassination attempts against pro-Moscow officials in recent days. These incursions, coupled with a campaign of missile and drone strikes on Russian military infrastructure, appear to be increasingly important tactics as Ukraine attempts to maintain pressure on Moscow.

Ukraine’s defense intelligence unit called Saturday’s bombing in the occupied southern city of Melitopol an act of revenge and said at least three national guard officers Russians had been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the attack, and it was not possible to independently verify it because it took place behind Russian lines.

“The strike caused panic in Melitopol, as many Russian police officers rushed to the scene with their sirens turned on,” the intelligence unit said on messaging app Telegram on Sunday. “Some time later, they dragged a car that had been set on fire near the headquarters to their station through the occupied city.”

Melitopol, in the Zaporizhzhia region, was captured by Russia early in the war and is a target for the Ukrainian counter-offensive launched in June, particularly because of its proximity to the Sea of ​​Azov. Pro-Moscow authorities have tried to promote Russian culture and identity in the city, which remains a center for Russian forces as well as a military logistics hub.

Melitopol is also targeted by partisans, small groups of fighters who operate clandestinely, to carry out acts of sabotage and assassinations to disrupt the Kremlin’s control.

Late last month, Russian officials announced that Oleg Tsaryov, a former Ukrainian parliament member who supported last year’s invasion of Moscow, had been shot dead in Yalta, a town in the occupied Crimea region. Ukrainian security services said they attempted to assassinate him. Mr Tsaryov later posted a video on social media showing he had survived.

Separately, Mykhaïlo Filiponenko, former leader of a pro-Russian militia in the Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine, was assassinated last week in a car explosion, according to the security agency. official Russian press RIA Novosti.

“Ukraine appears to be intensifying its attacks on the Russian army, its logistical assets and other prominent assets in the rear areas of occupied Ukraine and Russia,” the Institute for the Study of Warfare, a Washington-based research group, in a statement. Sunday report.

These attacks come as the military counter-offensive launched by the government in kyiv in June has largely stalled, having failed to achieve its main objectives. Ukraine has failed to decisively break through Russian defenses in the south of the country, nor to retake significant territories in the east.

Indeed, little land has changed hands in Ukraine this year, despite intense fighting and considerable losses on both sides, and Russia still retains control of about a fifth of Ukrainian territory.

Military analysts say that in the coming weeks, Ukraine’s progress in the Zaporizhzhia region will be even more difficult to achieve because the onset of rainy weather will make it more difficult to use mechanized military transports and because the The Ukrainian army will have to rest and rotate its troops. .

“There’s still some fighting there, just to be clear, but there’s not much that could be described as a surge at this point,” said Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and expert on the Russian and Ukrainian military.

Missile strikes in Crimea and Russian-held territories to the south and east have also become a favored tactic. Ukraine first increased the pace of its missile and drone strikes over the summer, when it became clear that the counter-offensive had not led to rapid progress, as hoped the country’s commanders.

These strikes yielded notable successes, forcing Russia to withdraw part of its naval fleet from Crimea and disrupting military logistics. In a resounding success, missiles fired by Ukraine in September damaged the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.

It remains to be seen whether Ukraine’s missile strikes and assassination campaigns can provide a tipping point toward a broader territorial breakthrough, said Ben Barry, a senior fellow in land warfare studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. , a British research group.

For that to happen, he said, the country’s NATO allies would most likely have to address broader military needs detailed recently by Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny. In a interview with the economistGen. Zaluzhny said Ukraine needed, among other things, better fighter jets and better electronic warfare capabilities if it wanted to break the deadlock.

In the short term, Barry drew a distinction between the fighting along the front lines, which he described as a close-quarters battle, and Ukraine’s campaign of strikes and other attacks behind the lines. head-on, which he called the battle in depth.

“The cumulative effects of deep combat should make close combat much easier,” he said. “And the more Ukraine erodes Russian military capacity in the broadest sense with the deep battle, the more likely there is a collapse of Russia.”

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Eric D. Eilerman

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