Economic analyst: Russia trying to pressure Ukraine into a ceasefire
Russia has adopted a new strategy in its war against Ukraine – as it is not finding success on the battlefield, Russia is using missiles and Iranian drones to destroy Ukraine's power infrastructure, bomb it back to the 18th century, Raivo Vare finds.
Russia has used Iranian drones to knock out 40 percent of Ukraine's energy infrastructure. This conscious winter tactic serves the purpose of buying time in which to train Russia's newly mobilized troops, replace those currently on the front and build up munitions stocks, Raivo Vare said.
"Basically, they are attempting to bomb the Ukrainian people and economy into a bad enough situation to spark "peace at all costs" pressure in society. At the same time, they are using Turkey as an icebreaker to talk to leading Western powers, going over Ukraine's head, and convince them to put pressure on Ukraine," Vare suggested.
"Those two processes serve the sole purpose of creating the need for talks at which Russia could push through its conditions or negotiate a breather. It does not mean they are after peace. They want a ceasefire. They simply need to catch their breath. It could last no longer than four years and its sole focus would be on continuing the war later," he added.
Washington revealed that Russia had bought Iranian drones back in August. The first wave of attacks took place in October and took the Ukrainian forces by surprise in that they didn't know how best to bring the cheap airborne scooters down. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said this Sunday that Ukraine can now destroy around 80 percent of drones Iranian instructors are helping to fly.
"Back in September, a month ago, the Russians moved UAVs that they acquired from Iran into Crimea to use against the Ukrainian people. And, as we've said, Russian military personnel in Crimea have been piloting these Iranian UAVs, using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including strikes against Kyiv just in recent days and against all sorts of civilian infrastructure and civilians themselves. That's truly deplorable. And yes, we also see Iranian military personnel on the ground in Crimea who are assisting Russia in these operations," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
Ukrainian special forces said on Sunday that Iranian national guard instructors have also been seen in Belarus where they participate in coordinating targets in addition to providing training.
While Israel was initially reluctant to provide Kyiv with information on the drones, this has apparently taken place now. What is more, Israel organized air strikes against structures near the Dimas military airport where the drones were being stored and assembled.
Germany's UN Ambassador Antje Leendertse said that Iranian drones are used to terrorize civilians and have been supplied to Russia without the UN's permission, which constitutes a direct violation of Resolution 2231.
The resolution concerns the Iranian nuclear agreement from 2015.
But the diplomatic battle is doing nothing to help the Ukrainians who need to repair their power plants with winter closing in fast.
"This requires manpower, materials, mechanisms, and because power structures are massive, a lot of these things is needed. The work is very time-consuming. Meaning that if boilers get hit, we are talking about long-term damage as you cannot just repair those overnight," Raivo Vare said.
Power companies might not have all the materials in stock, and it remains unclear whether they could be sourced from abroad.
"On top of everything, the bombardment continues. The Russians also use so-called additional strikes where a second hit follows the first once efforts at reconstruction and evacuation have begun. Just as the recent round of attacks followed the first one from early October. Some of the targets were the same, so we are talking about entirely conscious action," Vare remarked.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski