The euphoria of the Ukrainians over getting Western tanks was short-lived. It lasted only enough time to wake up yet again under Russian carpet bombing and recall that there are always two realities, including in war: one at the level of international relations, with exchanges and political negotiations, the other made up of hardship and suffering. The latter has been the reality for civilians for almost a year, and Thursday’s attack only worsened the already difficult living conditions of millions.
According to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valery Zaluzhny, Moscow reportedly launched a massive air attack starting the night between Wednesday and Thursday: 55 missiles in total, of which, according to Ukrainian sources, 47 were shot down. Most of them were launched from Russian land bases, but there were also several Kalibr and X-59s reportedly launched from fighter-bombers and ships stationed in the Black Sea. Kiev also said the Russians had used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. All in addition, of course, to the so-called “kamikaze” drones that are now being constantly flown in flotillas and that often come before the heavy weaponry whenever these massive attacks happen, in an attempt to confuse the anti-aircraft defenses.
The official numbers at the end of the day were 11 people killed and at least as many wounded, as Ukrainian National Emergency Service spokesman Oleksandr Khorunzhyi announced in a segment on Ukrainian television. The worst toll was in the Zaporizhzhia area, which has been hit by escalating attacks by Kremlin forces for days. Here, 3 civilians died and 7 were wounded during an attack on an energy facility.
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko, said one person was killed during the attacks, the first such death in the capital since New Year’s Eve. Two other people were injured. A little before Zaluzhny’s statements, the head of Kyiv’s municipal administration, Sergyi Popko, announced that as many as 15 missiles had been shot down over the capital alone.
According to Kyiv, this is the 11th such attack, with the obvious goal of undermining the country’s energy and strategic infrastructure. Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said the Kremlin’s tactics aimed to “cause a systemic failure in Ukraine’s energy system,” listing some of the damage that has once again caused widespread blackouts along the entire power distribution circuit, particularly in major cities. In Odessa, for example, shelling reportedly caused “significant problems with electricity supply,” according to regional governor Maksym Marchenko. On Thursday, the city had been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site at risk, and the Ukrainians have accused the Russian Federation of acts of “terrorism” and “crimes against humanity” for all the damage to the country’s artistic heritage.
In contrast to the regional governors, the politicians at the top, starting with Zelensky, continued to dwell on the tanks promised by European states and the U.S. The reason for this is simple: now that the allies have agreed to send them, it is of crucial importance to understand when the tanks will actually arrive at the front. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear that the allies are highly focused on the importance of speed in delivering the tanks. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius estimated that the Leopard 2s promised by Germany will be sent in late March or early April. Poland and Britain have also set the end of March as the target date for sending their tanks.
Early spring has been mentioned by many analysts as the most likely time for new Russian offensives. For Ukrainians, whether they will have tanks available or not is becoming a vital issue. Meanwhile, Moscow is closely watching the moves of its enemies and is continuing its strikes.
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