The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Will Russia be able to maintain offensive?

- By Daisuke Kawakami

KYIV — Following two consecutiv­e days of Russian military attacks on Ukraine’s capital and elsewhere in retaliatio­n for an explosion on a bridge that links Russian-occupied Crimea to Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin can be said to have demonstrat­ed his stance that he would launch countero ensives against attacks on “his country’s territory.”

But with the Russian military said to be weakening, it is unclear whether Moscow will be able to continue carrying out large-scale attacks.

Planned power outages of up to 4 hours a day began in Kyiv and neighborin­g areas Tuesday following Russian missile strikes the day before on energy-related facilities, including power plants and substation­s.

According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, damage was con rmed in 15 provinces, in addition to Kyiv, and the electricit­y supply was temporaril­y suspended in western Lviv and eastern Kharkiv, among other areas.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledg­ed the attacks would impact the livelihood­s of Ukrainians and called for the public’s cooperatio­n in conserving electricit­y, asking people to refrain from using washing machines, irons and other household appliances.

Putin said at a security council meeting Monday, “Ukrainian intelligen­ce forces had damaged an important Russian civilian facility,” referring to Saturday’s explosion on the 19-kilometer-long bridge that connects Crimea in southern Ukraine to Russia. Putin also said the latest attacks on Ukraine were retaliatio­n for the explosion.

is is seen as an indication that Russia has taken what Putin called a “commensura­te” response by concentrat­ing its attacks on facilities that are as important to Ukraine as the bridge is to Russia, which has used the crossing as a supply route.

e attacks are believed to be strategic strikes ahead of the winter season when energy demand will rise.

e attacks were also likely aimed at dispelling public discontent with the

Russian administra­tion and military over such developmen­ts as the mobilizati­on of reservists announced in September, and the recapture by Ukrainian forces of areas in eastern and southern Ukraine, which Moscow had recently declared as “annexed” regions of Russia.

Some social media users in Russia have even gone so far as to call Putin “weakkneed” over his stance in the wake of the bridge explosion.

Ukraine is poised to continue its campaign to retake territorie­s seized by Russia. It remains to be seen whether the Russian military will continue launching large-scale attacks.

On Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said its military had “in icted damage on all targets” with high-precision, longrange weapons.

However, the Ukrainian Air Force announced on the same day that it had intercepte­d about half of the approximat­ely 80 missiles, including high-precision Kalibr cruise missiles launched from strategic bombers deployed in the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.

In the latest attacks, the Russian military deployed Iranian-developed “suicide” drones and S-300 air defense missile systems, which have been modi ed for use to strike ground targets.

British intelligen­ce and other agencies have highlighte­d a deteriorat­ion in the capabiliti­es of the Russian military. It is possible that Moscow does not have the capacity to intensify its o ensive beyond the latest retaliatio­n.

A scenario in which Russia will be pushed by domestic hardliners into using nuclear weapons cannot be ruled out if its losses continue.

Russian missiles hit Kyiv’s government district, which is near the Presidenti­al O ce and the headquarte­rs of the intelligen­ce agency, in addition to important energy facilities, exposing the inadequacy of Ukraine’s air defense systems.

e United States and European countries have pledged to extend their support to strengthen the country’s air defense systems.

With Russian attacks expected to continue, the question is whether U.S. and European support will arrive in time. (Oct. 13)

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