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11 Apr, 2024 12:55

Ukrainian strikes inside Russia ineffective – Pentagon

Drone damage to energy infrastructure has not degraded Moscow’s military, a senior defense official told US lawmakers
Ukrainian strikes inside Russia ineffective – Pentagon

The Pentagon has seen no evidence that Ukrainian strikes on Russian civilian infrastructure have reduced Moscow’s military capability, a senior defense official told American lawmakers on Wednesday.

Since January, Ukraine has launched over a dozen long-range attacks on Russian energy facilities, including oil depots and refineries, using kamikaze drones to damage several targets. Celeste Wallander, the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, was asked about the tactics and Washington’s concerns regarding them, during a congressional hearing.

Responding to Representative Carlos Gimenez, the Pentagon official said that “so far” the approach did not seem to have affected the Russian military.

“The strikes that we have seen against Russian energy sources have not significantly altered Russia’s ability to prosecute the war,” she said.

“The evidence we’ve seen is that the Russians have been able to rapidly repair the facilities that were struck,” she added, when the Democratic representative from Florida asked whether such attacks could have a greater impact in the future.

Several members of the House Armed Services Committee, whom Wallander was briefing on the US military posture in Europe, had questions about the Ukrainian drone raids, and the concerns raised by President Joe Biden.

Austin Scott, a Republican representative from Georgia, said his assumption was that the infrastructure was “owned by the Kremlin” and not a private corporation “that has shareholders and private assets being destroyed.”

Wallander corrected him, saying some of the sites were privately owned by Russians, whom she branded “part of the [Russian President Vladimir] Putin regime”. Nevertheless, as an aspiring member of the EU and NATO, Ukraine should not target civilian infrastructure, she added.

“We have concerns about striking at civilian targets, when we support countries,” the official stressed. Scott disagreed, saying: “It makes sense to me that we should destroy them.”

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as a US-led proxy war on Russia, being fought “to the last Ukrainian.” Since Kiev started its drone campaign against fuel sites, Moscow has conducted several large-scale strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, which the Defense Ministry described as retaliatory, and also serving to degrade Ukrainian military production and logistics.

The latest of them was confirmed on Thursday. According to Ukrainian media, one of the targets was the Tripolskaya thermal power plant, which was disabled by a Russian strike. With capacity of 1800 MW, it is the largest electricity generator in Kiev Region.

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