Lauren C. Moye, FISM News
As Russia continues to target Ukraine’s power system, a senior Pentagon official is warning that the attacks are partly to exhaust Kyiv’s air defense supplies.
There has been an uptick in the number of missile strikes launched throughout this week, with Russia hammering multiple Ukrainian cities. It’s the heaviest wave of strikes since Russia first invaded their neighbor on Feb. 24.
Colin Kahl, a top Pentagon policy advisor, warned that Moscow might be strategically trying to deplete Ukraine’s air defense systems to gain dominance of the skies before winter completely sets in.
“They’re really trying to overwhelm and exhaust Ukrainian air defense systems,” Kahl recently said while in the Middle East.
“We know what the Russian theory of victory is, and we’re committed to making sure that’s not going to work by making sure the Ukrainians get what they need to keep their air defenses viable,” he added.
According to Kahl, Russia’s failure to destroy the air defenses early on has contributed to their mounting defeats in the nine months since. If they gain control of the air, then it becomes easier for Moscow’s foot soldiers to press into the nation.
So far, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems. Additionally, Ukraine has been supplied with counter-artillery and air surveillance radars. This support has prevented Russia from gaining air dominance.
Blackouts in Ukraine
Blackouts continue in Ukraine after Russia’s onslaught of missiles. In addition to military targets, Russia has used these strikes to take out critical energy infrastructure.
On Friday, Ukraine officials said that roughly half of the energy system has been crippled. Because of this, Kyiv could see a “complete shutdown” of the power grid.
Friday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that around 10 million people were without power at that time. These difficulties impacted 17 regions along with Kyiv.
“We are preparing for different scenarios, including a complete shutdown,” Mykola Povoroznyk, deputy head of the Kyiv administration, said to civilians in a separate televised address.
The announcement comes as temperatures plummet within the area. Kyiv has snow on the forecast for this week. Without energy to help provide heat and potable water, some fear Ukraine will suffer a humanitarian disaster this winter.
“Unfortunately Russia continues to carry out missile strikes on Ukraine’s civilian and critical infrastructure. Almost half of our energy system is disabled,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.
Russia’s defense ministry said that long-range weapons were most recently used to strike defense and industrial facilities, including “missile manufacturing facilities.”
Russia accuses Ukraine of executing prisoners-of-war
While Russia downplays its role in damaging the energy grid, they have also accused Ukraine of foul play by executing Russian prisoners of war. This would constitute a war crime.
The Russian defense ministry shared a video on social media that they claim shows the execution of more than ten surrendered Russian soldiers near Makiivka in the Luhansk region of Eastern Ukraine.
In the video, what appears to be 12 Russian soldiers lie down on the ground after surrendering to armed men with yellow bands on their arms who are allegedly Ukrainian soldiers.
Automatic rifles fire before the video show 12 bodies lying on the ground.
“This brutal murder of Russian servicemen is neither the first nor the only war crime,” the ministry said. “This is common practice in the Armed Forces of Ukraine that is actively supported by the Kyiv regime and blatantly ignored by its Western patrons.”
The authenticity of the video in terms of when and where it was filmed has not been verified. It is also unclear who filmed it.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has announced they were opening a criminal case into the murder of the men which would include an investigation into identifying the creators of the video.
Ukraine has not responded.
Earlier this week, Matilda Bogner, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, said that the mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russia was “fairly systematic” while the abuse of Russian prisoners by Ukraine was “not systematic.”