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Occupied Crimea becomes a death trap for Kremlin forces - The Economist

Bylim Olena

Occupied Crimea becomes a death trap for Kremlin forces - The Economist
Attacks on Crimea

Ukraine's acquisition of American ATACMS ballistic missiles with a range of 300 kilometers significantly changes the course of hostilities in the south of the country. Now the Ukrainian military got the opportunity to strike the rear positions and logistics centers of the occupiers in the occupied Crimea, making the peninsula a dangerous place for Russian troops to stay.

This is stated in the article of The Economist. The authors of the article note that, although Ukraine has to act "with its hands tied" due to US restrictions on strikes by American weapons on the territory of the Russian Federation, the effective campaign to de-occupy Crimea vividly demonstrates what it could achieve with full freedom of action.

Also read: Not only ATACMS will soon fly to Crimea

As NATO's senior adviser on logistics, Ben Godges, notes, the Ukrainian military "systematically makes Crimea unsuitable for the presence of Russian troops there." Defenders of Ukraine have already demonstrated the ability of Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles supplied from Great Britain and France, as well as their own drones, to hit Russian warships.

Ukraine is now using a deadly combination of anti-tank missile systems and increasingly sophisticated drones to systematically weaken Russian air defenses in Crimea, strike air bases from which Russian interceptors fly, and destroy critical logistical and economic facilities. British strategist Lawrence Friedman believes that the focus on disabling Russia's air defense network may also be part of preparations for the rapid arrival of the first batches of F-16 fighter jets from Europe.

General Godges emphasizes that the Russian troops "have nowhere to hide." "Thanks to satellite and aerial intelligence provided by NATO allies, their own in-depth knowledge of the territory and agents, nothing can move in Crimea without the Ukrainians knowing about it," he notes.

"With the advent of ATACMS and the improvement of Ukraine's own unmanned aerial vehicles, every square meter of the peninsula is in range, including time-sensitive targets such as aircraft and convoys of equipment moving by road or rail," the general added.

Godges is convinced that "the Ukrainians will demolish the Kerch bridge when they are ready," but a potentially more difficult task will be the destruction of the new railway line that runs along the Sea of Azov from Rostov through the southern Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Berdyansk to Crimea.

Ben Barry from the International Institute for Strategic Studies believes that the first test of the strategic success of the Ukrainian campaign in Crimea may be this summer, when Russian vacationers usually head over the Kerch Bridge to the resorts of the peninsula. If they decide not to go, it will be a bad sign for Putin, as Crimea is heavily dependent on the tourism industry, with bookings almost halving last year.

"Crimea has turned from a prestigious project into a source of depletion of Russian resources," Barry believes.

Earlier, historian Serhiy Klimovsky expressed the opinion that Moscow will offer to exchange the Belgorod region for Crimea.

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