Zelensky accuses Russia of genocide in hospital bombing
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The unguided bombs are already believed to have been used on civilians, human rights watchdogs have said, as Russia looks to step up its campaign against Ukraine. It comes as a senior British intelligence chief said Putin was now “pursuing a strategy of attrition”.
Recent reports suggest Putin believed that the invasion would be over in a matter of days, and that Ukrainian civilians would welcome the incoming forces.
But nearly a month into the war, Russian forces have only been able to make small territorial gains in the country, seizing two nuclear sites and several cities to the south and east.
The invaders have been plagued by disorganisation and poor communication, which has splintered their attack and led to units being cut off or captured.
The capital, Kyiv, still remains under the control of President Volodomyr Zelensky, despite frequent shelling and missile attacks.
Ukraine puts the Russian death toll at around 15,000. Previous Russian estimates have claimed the body count was in the low hundreds.
But last night (Monday, March 21), pro-Kremlin publication Komsomolskaya Pravda accidentally published what is thought to be a more accurate toll from the Ministry of Defence, which put the number of soldiers killed at 9,861.
Russian forces have not received a warm welcome from Ukrainian civilians, many of those who have remained in the country taking up arms.
Putin stands accused of war crimes following claims that he is deliberately aiming for civilian targets and showing no regard for human life in aerial attacks.
Amnesty International said that a Russian air strike that killed 47 civilians in the city of Chernihiv constituted a war crime earlier this month.
The watchdog said that evidence gathered by investigators suggested that the attack was most likely caused by at least eight unguided “dumb” bombs.
Joanne Mariner, Amnesty crisis response director, said the air strike was “merciless” and “indiscriminate”.
Now, a senior US defence official quoted by Jack Deutsch, national security reporter at Foreign Policy, has said that Russia will be turning to “dumb bombs” more now it is beginning to run low on stocks of precision-guided missiles.
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US officials also said that Russia has now committed more than 60 percent of their fixed and rotary wing capability into Ukraine, but that Russian sorties were not “venturing very far and [for] very long” into Ukrainian airspace.
Ukraine has been able to shoot down a surprising number of Russian planes, and has expressed thanks for the defensive missiles the UK has provided.
As well as anti-tank missiles, last week Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced Britain would send starstreak anti-aircraft missiles – the fastest short-rang surface-to-air missile made.
Meanwhile, on Friday, March 18, Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull, UK Chief of Defence Intelligence, said Russia was now “pursuing a strategy of attrition” as the invasion stalls.
He added: “The Kremlin has so far failed to achieve its original objectives. It has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian Resistance, and has been bedevilled with problems of its own making.”
Sir Jim said the new strategy “will involve the reckless and indiscriminate use of firepower. This will result in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, and intensify the humanitarian crisis.”
In a UK defence briefing yesterday (Monday), the Ministry of Defence said that Russia had recently claimed to have fired a number of experimental hypersonic missiles at targets in west Ukraine.
However, it said it was highly likely this claim was “intended to distract from a lack of progress in Russia’s ground campaign”.
The Ministry of Defence added that deployment of the new missile was “highly unlikely to materially affect the outcome of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine”.
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