Zelensky Aide: Russia Tries to Make Ukraine Impossible to Survive in Winter | Newsweek

by UKCHP_Admin

The head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration has condemned the recent round of Russian missile and drone strikes against Ukrainian cities and accused Moscow of trying to make his country impossible to live in as winter approaches.

“The Russians can’t defeat us on the battlefield, so they resort to terror on the scale unseen since the World War II,” Andriy Yermak, head of Zelensky’s presidential office and a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said during remarks delivered virtually Monday at an event hosted by the Cipher Brief in Sea Island, Georgia.

Accusing Moscow of “violating international law,” he asserted that most of the sites hit by Russian missiles—including some reported Iranian-made suicide drones—were largely civil, rather than military in nature.

“Today, residential buildings all over Ukraine were hit again,” Yermak said. “People rushing to work in the morning were killed right on the sidewalk, or while in their cars in Kyiv, in Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Mykolaiv, Zhitomir, Khmelnytskyi and Lviv.”

He said that “massive artillery barrages and missile attacks on civil and critical infrastructure are a core of the current Russian strategy.” And while he argued “there is no practical military sense” to such strikes, he asserted that “there is a simple logic behind these actions.”

“The calculation is two-fold,” Yermak said. “The first part is to make the living conditions too harsh to survive in winter to provoke another wave of migration and capitulate Ukraine.”

“The second part of the plan is to psychologically degrade Ukrainians,” he added, “to make us wish the war ended, no matter how.”

Yermak also said recent events may indicate a change in Russia’s approach to the conflict, which the Kremlin launched on February 24 as part of a so-called “special military operation” with the aim of the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine. Kyiv has rejected any ties to far-right ideologies, but its desire to join the U.S.-led NATO Western military alliance has been branded by Moscow as an attempt to undermine Russia’s national security.

For the first time since the conflict began, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Saturday the creation of a new commanding post to lead the operation, a development that Yermak suggested could indicate a loss of confidence on the part of the ministry and the Russian military’s general staff.

That same day, the bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula, a territory annexed by Russia amid the initial onset of unrest in Ukraine eight years ago, was targeted in a brazen bombing that Yermak said has aggravated a “power game” playing out between the Russian Armed Forces and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

But he acknowledged that, despite Ukraine’s successes, the reaction in Moscow likely “means that more terror attacks against Ukraine will follow.”

Addressing calls for negotiations, Yermak said such talks could only take place “after de-escalation,” something he said Moscow has yet to show any “good will” toward pursuing. He argued that pursuing peace under Russia’s conditions would only pause the conflict and serve as a “shortcut to the next war.”

In the meantime, he called for greater international support in the form of military assistance, including missile defense, artillery, tanks, armored vehicles, drones and even a no-fly zone to prevent the flight of Russian aircraft over Ukrainian territory.

“It has been repeated many times that Russia must not the win the war,” Yermak said. “It is time to edit the phrase. Ukraine must win the war.”

Addressing his security council that same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted, however, that it was Ukraine that was responsible for “terrorist acts,” including the explosion on the Crimean Bridge and previous incidents said to target energy infrastructure and other locations and individuals across Russia.

The Russian leader warned that more strikes against Ukraine’s own energy, communications and military infrastructure would come if such acts persisted.

“In the event of more attempts to stage terrorist attacks on our territory, Russia’s response will be harsh and commensurate with the threats posed to the Russian Federation,” Putin said. “Nobody should have any doubts about that.”

As for prospects of peace talks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova disparaged comments made by White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, who told ABC News on Sunday that President Joe Biden’s recent concerns over the threat of the Ukraine conflict turning nuclear are “reflecting the very high stakes that are in play right now” and at the same said the U.S. hoped Russia and Ukraine could “sit down and negotiate and find a way out of this peacefully and diplomatically.”

In a statement issued Monday, Zakharova accused the Biden administration sending “contradictory signals, in which speculation about the ‘Russian nuclear threat’ alternates with assurances of the U.S. interest in a speedy settlement of the conflict in Ukraine by peaceful means.

“Such rhetoric is voiced in the context of large-scale arms supplies to the pro-Nazi Ukrainian regime, which Washington doesn’t seem to think of stopping, despite the antics of its unhinged client in Kiev,” Zakharova said. “There is nothing but hypocrisy and a poorly disguised attempt to fight further to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on us is behind these false calls for peace.”

Biden spoke with Zelensky in the aftermath of Russia’s missile attacks on Monday, vowing to continue to support Kyiv as Ukrainian troops attempted to take back territory from Russian forces and allied separatists, including four regions subject to a recent internationally unrecognized referendum that would have them annexed into the Russian Federation.

In the call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Biden “expressed his condemnation” of Russia’s attacks and “pledged to continue providing Ukraine with the support needed to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems,” according to the White House readout.

“He also underscored his ongoing engagement with allies and partners to continue imposing costs on Russia, holding Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities, and providing Ukraine with security, economic, and humanitarian assistance,” the readout added.

The Biden administration has so far provided more than $17.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine and has continued to authorize new tranches of support in line with a $40 billion package signed in May.

Zelensky, for his part, “underscored that recent large-scale damages of critical energy infrastructure pose serious challenges ahead of the upcoming winter and beginning of the heating season,” according to his office’s readout.

“Today’s strikes against civilian targets throughout Ukraine are a sign of weakness of the Russian army which is losing on the battlefield,” the Ukrainian leader was quoted as saying. “It is pure terror. But we will not succumb to the Russian missile blackmail.”

[Source: https://www.newsweek.com/zelensky-aid-russia-trying-make-ukraine-impossible-survive-winter-1750553]


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