- Written by Paul Adams
- International Affairs Correspondent
This is the first large, coordinated wave of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in nearly a month.
While there has been some targeting of energy facilities in recent weeks, this was the longest gap since the attacks began in early October.
The long-anticipated wave of strikes to celebrate the first anniversary of Russia’s all-out invasion on February 24 failed – although this may have been speaking more about media expectations than Russia’s actual strategy.
But the increasingly sporadic nature of Russian infrastructure attacks is noteworthy.
Western officials believe this points to a shortage of the type of precision-guided weapons — particularly missiles — needed to carry out such attacks with any degree of effectiveness.
“It took them a long time to put together a number of precision weapons before they could launch a packed event attack,” said one of the officials earlier this week.
The Ukrainian military has also become quite adept at intercepting incoming missiles and drones.
Preliminary data indicates that a significant proportion of the weapons in use today have been shot down, including more than 70% of cruise missiles and half of all drones.
According to Valeriy Zalogny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military, eight more missiles were thwarted by what he described as “organized countermeasures”.
But it’s clear, judging by reports from across the country, that others have found their mark.
Some weapons are difficult to intercept, such as the Kh-22 long-range anti-ship missile, which dives hard on its target from a very high altitude.
The same is true of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile, which was never designed to attack targets on the ground, but has been increasingly used in this role over the past six months.
Military analysts will dig into the latest data, looking for what Russia’s choice of weapons indicates about Moscow’s tactics and remaining stockpiles.
Before today’s attacks, observers had begun to wonder if Russia would continue with a strategy that didn’t seem to be working.
Despite the massive devastation inflicted on Ukraine’s power grid over the past six months, the country has not brought it to its knees, and most Ukrainians have long become accustomed to blackouts, inconvenience, and occasional danger.
Ukraine’s engineers have managed to keep power flowing throughout the country, despite the loss of dozens of transformers, switches and other key components of the country’s infrastructure.
In Kyiv and other cities, street lights have recently been turned back on, providing relief to pedestrians who used to make their way along dark sidewalks using only their mobile phones to light the way.
But the situation remains fraught, and officials know Russia can still cause serious damage. The question is: for how long?
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