Kyiv Under Russian Attack As War Revisits Europe

by Swarajya Staff - Feb 25, 2022 06:18 PM +05:30 IST
Kyiv Under Russian Attack As War Revisits EuropeAftermath of a rocket attack in Kyiv

Today is the second day that smog covers the skies of Ukraine as war revisits the European continent. The capital city of Kyiv witnessed Russian bombardment as missiles and rockets detonated on Ukrainian soil. In a televised address, Ukraine's 44 year old President, Volodymyr Zelensky stated that “They say that civilian objects are not a target for them. It is a lie. They do not distinguish in which areas to operate.”

Zelensky warned that he was “target No. 1” of the Russian advance as Moscow aims to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of the state.

As Russian forces advanced to the outskirts of the capital and hit Kyiv with a series of airstrikes today, the residents were forced to hide out in subway stations (which were built by the Soviets deep underground to serve as bomb shelters during war time).

People taking shelter from air strikes in metro stations | Getty images
People taking shelter from air strikes in metro stations | Getty images

Zelensky confirmed reports that missile strikes began before the crack of dawn today. "This morning we are defending our state alone. Like yesterday, the world's most powerful forces are watching from afar," Zelensky said in his address to the nation this morning.

However it is unclear what the Ukrainian President expected the West to do, considering the fact that the American people do not have an appetite for another foreign 'adventure', especially noting the fact that Russia has a nuclear arsenal. Direct involvement of Western troops to solve this problem would be akin to shovelling coal in fire to extinguish it.

The Ukrainian leader has called out European leaders for inaction and urged people in European countries to protest, hoping that would pressurise European leaders to act more decisively. "Like World War Two, you said never again, but here it is again and you're not doing enough to respond," he said.

Ukrainians in a bomb shelter seeking safe haven from an expected attack as sirens blare loudly above them| Getty images
Ukrainians in a bomb shelter seeking safe haven from an expected attack as sirens blare loudly above them| Getty images

Ukraine's army are fighting Russian forces on the outskirts of Kyiv in Dymer and Ivankiv. The troops have destroyed a bridge on the border of the Teteriv River to impede the further advancement of Russian forces.

As of now, Ukrainian forces are still holding on to an airfield outside the capital city, although that might change as more Russian forces march in.

Ukraine's Defence Ministry is urging residents of Kyiv to "prepare Molotov cocktails to deter the occupier". Depending on whether the residents of Kyiv fight or flee, an urban warfare may or may not ensue.

Russian advance on Kyiv | Credits: BBC
Russian advance on Kyiv | Credits: BBC

The Ministry believes that Russian forces have entered the Obolon district which is few miles north of central Kyiv.

The distance between Obolon and Ukraine's parliament is just 9kms.

According to a BBC report, Ukraine's counter intelligence believes that Russia plans to 'take control of the city to take control of the country. It's all unconfirmed but this is what they report Russia wants to do:

  • Seize a major Kyiv airport and air traffic control to allow 10,000 troops to land, distracting the military with attacks on the border

  • Sabotage Kyiv's electricity and communications to cause panic

  • Provoke an exodus of refugees to prevent Ukrainian armed forces moving around

  • Seize government buildings including cabinet and parliament and capture the state leadership, forcing them to sign an agreement on Russian terms

  • Bring in pro-Russian leaders and split Ukraine into two parts, like East and West Germany'

Residents in Kyiv lining up in a bus station to move towards the western region of the country | Credits: New York Times
Residents in Kyiv lining up in a bus station to move towards the western region of the country | Credits: New York Times

Ukraine's army has announced in a tweet that they are lifting all age restrictions, urging all civilians to join, regardless of their age.

"Today, Ukraine needs everything. All procedures for joining are simplified.Bring only your passport and identification number.There are no age restrictions," the tweet read.

Yesterday chaos emerged as Russia began its precision bombing, targeting military installations across Ukraine whilst ground troops marched in from land and sea.

Mr. Zelensky’s government had declared martial law yesterday and ordered a general mobilization, urging all able-bodied Ukrainians to sign up with the country’s defense forces. Under the mobilization, most men ages 18 to 60 are barred from leaving the country.

Many residents of Kyiv are fleeing the capital via road and rail to the relative safety of western Ukraine and some are crossing into the neighbouring countries as well. By some estimates, around 100,000 people have already fled the country.

Ukrainians in a train station in Poland | Getty images
Ukrainians in a train station in Poland | Getty images

The last war in Europe occurred as a result of Yugoslavia's disintegration. The horrific war in 1990s occurred in a disintegrating country of 23 million people. Ukraine's population exceeds 40 million and although it is often forgotten, Ukraine is the largest country in Europe. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the biggest war in Europe since the 2nd World War.

Russia's foreign minister Mr. Lavrov has ruled out talks with Ukraine and indicated that they are seeking to topple the Ukrainian government. Whilst addressing a press conference he said that “We do not see the possibility of recognising as democratic a government that persecutes and uses methods of genocide against its own people.”

He added that Russia would be prepared to hold negotiations only when Ukraine stops fighting.

“We are ready for talks at any moment, as soon as the Ukrainian Armed Forces answer the call of our president to stop their resistance and put down their arms,” said Mr. Lavrov.

The head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency, Sergei Naryshkin said that "Russia cannot allow Ukraine to become a dagger raised above us in the hands of Washington.” He added that the 'special military operation' will restore peace in Ukraine and prevent a potential larger conflict in Europe.

Ukrainian forces walking near a downed aircraft in Kyiv | Credits: Associated Press
Ukrainian forces walking near a downed aircraft in Kyiv | Credits: Associated Press

However, it remains to be seen how Russia will deal with the obvious heightened anti-Russia sentiment in Ukraine, which will only become more pronounced after this invasion. Getting in and winning is relatively easy, it is the 50th order of effect of war that might haunt Moscow years down the line.

The West will do what it can covertly to make life difficult for Russian forces if Russian forces decide to remain put. The options of West may include supporting an urban insurgency that engages in asymmetric warfare.

If Vladimir Putin decides that Russian troops should get out after installing a puppet regime, it is quite possible that with passage of time something similar to the 2014 Maidan protests may emerge against the new Moscow sympathetic regime. Moscow will be back where it began.

The Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939 believing they will be greeted as liberators and that is not what happened.

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