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Russia is stepping up attacks on civilians, says senior Ukrainian official | Ukraine

A senior Ukrainian official has accused Russia of deliberately stepping up its deadly attacks on civilian targets, after recent missile strikes, including this week’s targeting of the crowded downtown Vinnytsia, killed 23 people, including three children .

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, told the Guardian that monitoring of Russian strikes suggested an increased focus in recent weeks on terrorizing Ukraine’s civilian population.

“We have a system to monitor and track all airstrikes and other attacks in our country and what we have noticed recently is a trend of destroying more and more civilian targets. They decided to terrorize the civilian population. These are not my emotions, but what our surveillance tells us.

Map of Ukraine Friday July 15

While Russia has been accused of targeting civilians throughout its invasion of Ukraine, missile strikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure appear to have increasingly become a distinct tactic with a series of deadly attacks over the past month.

The attack on a shopping center in Kremenchuk, a small town on the Dnieper, in late June left 18 dead and 59 injured. An apartment building and a beach hotel in Serhiivka, 50 km south of Odessa, were hit on July 1, killing 21 people and injuring 35.

Two apartment buildings in Chasiv Yar, near the frontline in Donetsk Oblast, were hit on July 9, killing 48 people, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the entire world. war that lasted five months. Vinnytsia, a central town far from the front lines, was hit on Thursday, five days later.

Danilov suggested that some attacks – notably during a visit by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Kyiv – seemed designed to deliver a message of defiance. Thursday’s attack in Vinnytsia came as EU ministers sat in The Hague to discuss how to hold Russia accountable for atrocities committed during its invasion of Ukraine.

“We have an enemy who breaks all the rules of war and rejects international law, so we can’t expect better behavior,” Danilov said. “What amazes me is that a country that rejects international law is allowed to participate in international institutions to claim its ‘rights’.”

A multi-missile attack on Kyiv’s university district on June 26, as the G7 summit was beginning – and after an EU summit had just concluded – was interpreted as an attempt to intimidate Ukrainians and to show that Russia was not afraid of the West. It was the first time the capital had been hit in three weeks.

Dr Sidharth Kaushal, an analyst at the Rusi think tank, said Russia had used long-range missiles, capable of striking anywhere in Ukraine, for two purposes: either “to disrupt the flow of supplies to the front line or terrorize civilians”. Recent strikes, he added, “suggest emphasizing the latter function at a time because their targets were clearly non-military”.

Some of the missiles used date from the Soviet era and were used in ways not intended by their original design. Kaushal said that in Kremenchuk, Russia used an AS-4 “kitchen” anti-ship missile first deployed in the 1960s. Amnesty International said the same ammunition was used in the double strike of missiles at Serhiivka – indicating, Kaushal added, that “the goal is terror, not precision”.

Ukraine’s missile defense systems are limited, with early warning capabilities lost early in the war. Its system of air raid warnings is largely ineffective, and sirens in towns outside conflict zones are rarely followed by attacks. To improve the situation, Kyiv has sought to secure defense systems from the west – receiving limited supplies so far.

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In early July, the United States promised to provide two Norwegian-American Nasams air defense systems, which operate with a range of about 20 miles, suitable for the protection of Kyiv or another large population center. But Russia’s recent wave of missile strikes has focused on secondary or tertiary centers.

Konrad Muzyka, a military analyst and director of Rochan Consulting, said he believed the increase in Russian strikes was linked to Ukraine’s use of longer-range multiple-rocket artillery systems, primarily the newly arrived Himars truck-mounted battery from the United States.

“The more successful the Ukrainians are with their employment of Himars, the more likely the Russians are to target civilians,” Muzyka said, arguing that Moscow’s tactic was in fact a crude deterrence attempt, designed to weaken Kyiv’s desire to counterattack and strike down the invaders. out.

Danilov rejected this interpretation. “You can’t link Himars’ arrival to those strikes. Even if we didn’t have these systems, they would still terrorize and kill the civilian population, so the link is likely to be a Russian narrative.

A security alert issued overnight Thursday, titled Missile Threat Awareness, again advised Americans to leave Ukraine. He added: “Avoid large gatherings and organized events as they can serve as Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western regions.”

The latest attacks coincided with intercepted messages and social media posts by Russian military personnel and pro-Russian bloggers explicitly celebrating the strikes against Ukrainian civilians.

On Friday, Russia admitted targeting the center of Vinnytsia, saying the target was a meeting of Ukrainian officials and Western arms dealers, but without providing any evidence. Previously, pro-Kremlin sources denied hitting Vinnytsia, saying another city was hit.

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Post expires at 5:21pm on Thursday July 21st, 2022