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Russia intent on destroying Ukraine's second-largest city: analysis

23.04.2024 14:00
Russia has launched a massive air campaign to destroy Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has warned.
The aftermath of a Russian missile strike on a TV tower in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, April 22, 2024.
The aftermath of a Russian missile strike on a TV tower in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, April 22, 2024.Photo: EPA/SERGEY KOZLOV

"The Kremlin is conducting a concerted air and information operation to destroy Kharkiv City, convince Ukrainians to flee, and internally displace millions of Ukrainians ahead of a possible future Russian offensive operation against the city or elsewhere in Ukraine," the US think tank said in a new report.

It cited regional governor Oleh Synehubov and prosecutors as saying that Russian forces struck a TV tower in Kharkiv "possibly with a Kh-59 cruise missile" on Monday afternoon and that the strike disrupted TV signals in the area.

"Ukrainian and Russian media and Russian milbloggers widely amplified footage and images of the damaged TV tower, which broke in half and partially collapsed as a result of the strike," the ISW said.

It noted that Russian forces struck a television tower in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on March 1, 2022, shortly after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Kremlin may intend to invoke the memory of the March 2022 Kyiv strike and the early weeks of Russia's invasion of Ukraine "to create panic among Ukrainians during another challenging moment of the war," according to the ISW.

The think tank said "the likelihood of a successful Russian ground offensive against Kharkiv is very low if Ukraine receives renewed US military aid rapidly."

The Ukrainian Center for Combatting Disinformation warned in February that Russian Telegram channels were spreading claims that Ukrainian officials were fleeing Kharkiv, and Russian sources claimed in early April that there is a “mass exodus” of civilians from the city, according to the US think tank.

The ISW reiterated its assessment that "the Russians lack the forces necessary to seize the city as long as Ukrainian forces defending it are adequately supplied, as they will be if the US restarts military assistance soon."

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, starting the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II.

Tuesday is day 790 of Russiawar on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, understandingwar.org