The Ukraine Crisis Situation Update #23

Foreign Policy Brief #79 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | June 6, 2023
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Drone Strikes by Both Sides

On June 1, 2023, Russia launched a pre-dawn missile attack on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, killing 3 people including a 9 year old and her mother. The attacks also damaged apartment buildings, schools and a children’s hospital, it was the highest casualty and most destructive attack on Kyiv over the past month. In the last few weeks Russia has unleashed multiple air attacks on Kyiv,  intensifying its missile and drone attacks after a lull of nearly two months, targeting infrastructure facilities and supplies. These attacks come likely as a warning against the suspected Ukrainian summer counteroffensive.

Conversely, in recent weeks a number of drone strikes have occurred within Russia’s borders. On Tuesday eight drones were used in attempted strikes in the Russian capital Moscow, five were shot down and three stopped with signal jamming technology causing them to lose control and miss their targets. It was the first time that the city has been so heavily targeted since the beginning of the war. Since the start of 2023, there have been over 60 suspected drone attacks inside Russia and Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine. The Russian foreign ministry blames Ukraine for the attacks and recently made statements that Western support for Kyiv was “pushing the Ukrainian leadership towards ever more reckless criminal deeds including acts of terrorism”. Ukraine meanwhile has denied any connection to the drone attacks inside of Russia.


Attack on Russia’s Belgorod region

Two pro-Ukraine Russian paramilitary groups conducted an incursion Monday into Russia’s Western Belgorod region from Ukraine, in which they overran several small villages. Moscow this week said it had defeated the groups, killing more than 70 people. The paramilitary forces appeared to have used U.S. made equipment, something that the Pentagon has said it would investigate. Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said that the U.S. had not authorized nor received Ukrainian requests for transferring equipment to paramilitary groups. He also expressed doubts about the Russian reports and images appearing to show U.S. made vehicles. Ukraine has denied involvement in the attack, saying the two groups which are suspected neo-Nazi organizations, Legion of Free Russia and Russian Volunteer Corps, consist only of Russian citizens aiming to create a demilitarized zone on the border with Ukraine.

The recent attacks within Russia’s territory show that the war is now making its way back into its own borders. While Russia sought a quick and decisive victory and has downplayed the war as only a “special operation” it has been anything but and now its own capital and citizens have suffered from the violence of war. Additionally the paramilitary groups targeting Russia’s Western region adds a dangerous complexity to an already devolving situation for the Kremlin, where different groups can cause chaos on different fronts requiring even more resources and manpower that Russia is severely lacking. 

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