Clouds of black smoke continue to rise in the Crimean sky. Blasts by Ukraine are becoming more frequent on the peninsula, forcing the pro-Russian government that has ruled it for nine years to cut ties, albeit temporarily. This happened just five days ago at the Kerch Bridge, the only infrastructure linking it with Russia and also a major hub for supplying the army, and it was repeated again today, along with the closure of the railway line following the destruction of an arms depot (along with an oil depot). Up until a few months ago, it was frankly unimaginable to contemplate such a scenario – ie such a vulnerable Crimea – and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to see it as a military target within reach. Returning the Ukrainian flag to the peninsula is “a task” to be accomplished, he said last night ahead of the drone strike, hours after his video address at the Aspen Security Forum. Words that confirm Kiev’s legitimate intentions to return to the borders established in 1991, the year of its independence, but do not say that this will happen or that it can be achieved through a military victory.
On the contrary, it is more understandable that Ukraine regards the peninsula as a long-term goal and as an element to affirm that it will not bow to any exception to territorial concessions. Indeed, as General Domenico Rossi confirmed to Huffpost, “From a strategic and tactical point of view, Crimea is a false target, while from a political point of view it assumes absolute relevance.” The explanation must lie in Kiev’s real need: to give substance to the counteroffensive. “The real efforts of the Ukrainians, from the point of view of the conflict, will be focused on determining a possible direction that could lead to the breakthrough of the Russian lines. It is a very complex operation, as the Moscow army worked on two fronts: it took advantage of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and lengthened the course of the Dnieper River, making passage more difficult, while further east it reinforced trenches and mines. We must remember that Moscow’s goals have gradually changed: from dismissing Zelenskyy to conquering the Donbass and real difficulties in conducting this offensive. And when that happens,” explains the former deputy chief of staff, “the ground that has been conquered so far will consolidate.”
On the other hand, the start of the counter-offensive, during which the Russians were able to block the way for the Ukrainians, had been expected for months. Mostly with mines. Ukraine has gradually become the largest mined area in the world, which inevitably complicates movements on the ground. “Anyone who attacks exposes themselves more and more, and in the minds of Ukraine the protection of human life is higher than in Russia,” Rossi continued. So be careful, but also observe. “I believe that Kiev is still exploring all possibilities and, if there are any, making great efforts to break the borders.”
For the general, the fact that the counteroffensive is not producing the expected results is a matter of terrain, not weapons. If it doesn’t work, it’s not because of a slowdown in the flow of materials and weapons, but because of the objective complications on the battlefield from mines and the resistance of the occupiers. Even worse from the use of cluster bombs. Russia has been launching them practically since the beginning of the conflict, which is why the United States has decided to send them to Ukraine as well (both Moscow and Washington have not signed the convention banning them), hoping that they could damage Russian lines. So while Russia condemns the death of one of its reporters (a “premeditated crime” about which “international structures prefer to turn a blind eye, as in the past,” commented diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova) and the injury of four other four who were hit by Ukrainian mass bombs while evacuating from the Zaporizhia region, the West is doing the same. Cause that destroyed the life of a Deutsche Welle reporter.
In addition to movements on the pitch, those off the pitch must also be recorded. Yesterday Zelenskyi officially dismissed his ambassador in London without any reason worth mentioning. However, it is believed to be a direct result of his criticism of the Ukrainian president, who said he was too “sarcastic” in responding to the harsh – how rare – objection from British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who had asked for more gratitude to be shown to Ukraine’s allied states. Also on Friday, Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko resigned. Here’s why: he called for more investment in his sector, but the answer was no. Everything, or almost everything, must be spent on defense and therefore ultimate victory. To be honest, it seems difficult that Crimea is one of them.