Putin’s ‘bulldozer’: Russian troops strike Ukraine from land, air and sea | News

Russia launched a massive assault on Ukraine Thursday morning, attacking its neighbor by land, air and sea in a dramatic takeover attempt that has already claimed dozens of civilian casualties.

President Vladimir Putin ordered full-scale invasion hours after vowing to ‘denazify’ Ukraine and after weeks of failed diplomatic attempts by the West. Shortly after making his announcement, Russian tanks and troops crossed into Ukraine’s eastern border, where the first line of Ukrainian defenses were hit hard by a barrage of precision missiles during an assault that the American and European leaders feared they could pulverize eastern Ukraine and besiege Kiev within minutes. days.

“The Russians have such supremacy that it’s basically a bulldozer that can, over time, go anywhere,” a senior Western intelligence official said. FinancialTimes. “The capacity is such that they can take territory almost as fast as they want. The key variable factor is how well the Ukrainians can fight and make Putin’s nose bleed.”

Ukrainian troops fought Russian forces along almost the entire border during the first hours of the war. Fierce fighting was seen near the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where more than half a dozen Russian helicopters flew west over the Dnieper towards Hostomel.


Military analysts believe Putin “wants to stifle rather than flatten Kiev”.

“So far, the Kremlin has focused on removing critical civilian infrastructure to maintain Ukrainian combat functions,” said Samuel Cranny-Evans, a military analyst at the Royal United Services Institute in London. Times. “It can now extend to the elimination of human infrastructure in order to weaken the Ukrainian resistance.”

Smoke rises from an air defense base following an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine on Thursday. (AP Photo/Evgeny Maloletka)

Reuters reported explosions in the pre-dawn hours in Kyiv, where about 3 million people live. Gunshots rang out, sirens sounded and the highway out of Kyiv was blocked as fearful residents tried to flee en masse.

Battles also broke out in Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson and Odessa.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said Russian troops also entered the highly radioactive Chernobyl exclusion zone from Belarus in northern Ukraine, a move that risked damaging the cement-encased nuclear reactor. which melted in 1986.

Russian troops then began to land by sea in the port cities of Mariupol and Odessa, where the main Ukrainian naval bases are located. Both cities attacked, although Odessa still appeared to be under Ukrainian control as of Thursday noon. Russian tankers have also blocked the Kerch Strait, leading from the Black Sea to the Sea of ​​Azov.

A man stands in front of a Russian Ka-52 combat helicopter is seen on the ground after it crash-landed outside Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday.
A man stands in front of a Russian Ka-52 combat helicopter is seen on the ground after it crash-landed outside Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)


They also attacked Ukraine from Belarus, with the Ukrainian Border Guard Service confirming that another attack had been launched from annexed Crimea.

In a televised address early Thursday, Putin addressed the West’s historic grievances against Moscow and boasted that Russia is “one of the most powerful nuclear states” with access to “several advanced weapons”. He claimed his anger went beyond Ukraine’s borders to the United States and its ’empire of lies’, threatening ‘consequences you’ve never faced in your history’ for anyone who challenges the will. of Russia to take over Ukraine.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Russian forces had destroyed more than 70 military targets in Ukraine, including 11 airfields, three command points and a naval base. They also shot down a helicopter and four Bayraktar TB2 drones. The country lost a fire plane due to “pilot error”.

Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday.
Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Putin and his generals have a history of tactical innovation and are armed with commanders experienced in a wide variety of combat scenarios, including the civil war in Syria.

“The bottom line is, what is Russia’s end goal? The stocks will fit there,” Cranny-Evans said. “If they only go to where the Ukrainian forces are, it speaks to Putin’s repeated statements about the ‘demilitarization of Ukraine’. Regime change would follow. If Russian troops enter the cities, where there is no there are probably no Ukrainian forces, this suggests a different objective.


Michael Kofman, senior fellow at CNA, a US-based think tank, said Ukraine’s fate would be determined if it could stage a strategic retreat to avoid encirclement or find a line of fallback from which it could resist or delay the Russian advance westward.

“Quantitatively and qualitatively, Russia has considerable supremacy here. Ukrainians face a grim situation,” Kofman said. “We shouldn’t be surprised by the first Russian ground advances, because the question is when will Ukrainian forces choose to hold the line.”

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