United States puts a stop to Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory | International
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There is one weapon that NATO is loath to supply to Ukraine for defense against Russian invasion: long-range missiles. Russia fires dozens of cruise rockets from its territory every day, but Ukraine does not have this arsenal and its international allies do not contemplate providing it. The reason is that the United States, the main donor of aid to kyiv, is reluctant to do so because it fears an escalation of the war beyond Ukraine. “We will not send missile systems to Ukraine that could hit Russia,” US President Joe Biden said in May. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned last September that NATO would cross “a red line” if it provided long-range missiles to Ukraine. Despite this, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been attacking targets on Russian soil since last spring.
On April 1, the first Ukrainian attack on Russia took place. Two missiles, fired from a combat helicopter, according to the Russian authorities, destroyed fuel depots in Belgorod, a city of 360,000 inhabitants just 50 kilometers from Kharkov (Ukraine’s second largest metropolis) and a province where most of the targets that kyiv selects on the other side of the border. Belgorod received the Ukrainian fire three consecutive days this October, between the 13th and the 15th, again with its energy and military infrastructures as a target. This retaliation occurred during the large-scale Russian offensive against Ukraine’s energy network.
In the province of Belgorod, other border locations have been the target of Ukrainian artillery, although the General Staff does not officially want to report on the authorship. In the Russian town of Shevekino, on the border between Belgorod and the province of Kharkov, shells have fallen on several occasions, in an area with a high military presence. A shelling of Shevekino this week would have killed two civilians and wounded 14. During a visit by EL PAÍS this October to the Ukrainian border between the provinces of Chernihiv and Briansk, part of the noise that hammered the horizon were shots from the Ukrainian artillery that responded to the Russian artillery. A Ukrainian officer in the area claimed that his positions were fired on by Polish-made AHS Krab self-propelled guns.
The official Russian version counted at the beginning of October more than 30 towns in the provinces of Belgorod, Briansk and Kursk that had suffered attacks against their electricity network. Last September, the Ukrainian bombs even reached a Taganrog neighborhood where a military base is allegedly located, according to the well-known Russian soldier and ultra-nationalist Igor Girkin. This information has not been confirmed by any military source, but videos were shared on social media that coincide with the explosion Girkin was referring to. Taganrog, in Rostov province, is 80 kilometers from the border with Donetsk and 170 kilometers from the Ukrainian positions, so it would be, if true, a coup of great strategic audacity.
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The veracity of these data is difficult to verify, although the attack by means of a suicide drone against an airfield for bombers in Shaikovka (Kaluga province) was confirmed, in the deepest incursion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Russia: Shaikovka is located 470 kilometers from kyiv and only 200 from Moscow.
In a speech on October 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin justified the large-scale offensive against the Ukrainian energy network with various pretexts; One of them was the alleged sabotage that the Ukrainian secret services have carried out in the electrical installations of the Kursk nuclear power plant.
Neither the General Staff nor the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense officially admit any of these attacks. They did not even do it with the sabotage by means of a truck bomb that on October 8 caused serious damage to the Kerch Strait bridge, the only road that connects the Crimean peninsula with Russia. Crimea was illegally annexed in 2014 and the bridge was also a symbol of the incorporation of this region into Russia. The explosion, which caused at least three deaths, occurred on the side of the bridge over Ukrainian sovereign waters. President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated that Ukraine is not behind this action, and has stated that according to his intelligence services, it is a setup caused by internal power struggles between the Russian high command.
Ukraine’s military operations on Russian territory are taking place slowly —compared to the Russian offensive— and with an obvious limitation: unlike the invading army, kyiv does not have long-range missiles. It does have in its arsenal about half a thousand Soviet Toshka missiles, as specified last March by the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS, for its acronym in English). The Toshka are of little precision and reach distances not exceeding 120 kilometers. Russia, on the other hand, fires cruise missiles every day, the Kalibr from the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the Kh-101 and Kh-55 from fighter-bombers in the Caspian Sea, far from Ukraine to avoid being shot down.
Ukraine’s best rocket resource so far is the US Himars, high-precision multi-launch missiles that can reach 70 kilometers. The Himars have been instrumental in destroying Russian arsenals near the front lines. But kyiv asks for something that goes further, demanding that they be armed with the Atacm, US guided missiles that reach targets 300 kilometers away. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry reiterates that they are crucial to attack Russian positions in Crimea, especially the facilities from which suicide drones are fired towards the cities of the invaded country. But Washington says no: fear of world war discourages it.
The United States is wary that Ukraine will not use increased ballistic capability to strike on Russian soil. In fact, the assassination last August in Moscow of Daria Dugina provoked one of the few conflicts between allies. Despite the fact that Zelensky denied the Ukrainian authorship of the attack against the daughter of Russian ultra-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, sources from the United States secret services assured New York Times be convinced that Ukrainian military groups were behind the operation.
Caution even leads Washington to rule out sending long-range weapons to kyiv to attack Russian positions in Crimea. “The reason why we do not give them this weaponry is because we disagree about the attacks in Crimea,” sources close to the Biden government said on October 6. The Wall Street Journal. Despite this, Washington officially supports Ukraine to recover Crimea, a province that Putin considers an intrinsic part of Russian identity and where Russia has historically had one of its most important naval bases.
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