​Persisting brutality: On Russia and the Ukraine war

Russia’s mindless pursuit of war in Ukraine has reached a dead end; it is time for talks

Updated - July 10, 2024 01:07 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 12:10 am IST

Russia’s missile strikes across Ukraine on June 8, claiming at least 42 lives, are yet another reminder of the brutality of the ongoing invasion which began on February 24, 2022. Among the civilian locations hit was the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, where at least two people were killed, according to Ukrainian authorities. Russia says it targeted military and industrial bases and blamed Ukraine’s missile defence for the damage to the civilian centres, but such claims cannot be trusted as Russia’s sustained bombing campaigns in Ukraine have targeted military and civilian locations. The June 8 attack came on the eve of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Washington, where member-countries are expected to take decisions on long-term commitment for Ukraine, including a €40 billion annual military aid. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Warsaw on Monday where he signed a new security pact with Poland, which empowers the NATO member-country to shoot down Russian missiles and drones in the Ukrainian airspace. Russia’s attack could be the Kremlin’s way of messaging NATO and Poland, but the strikes on civilian centres only expose the callousness of Russia’s war leaders.

Russia has made incremental territorial gains in recent months. Its troops have advanced in the Kharkiv Oblast, taking several villages. Last week, Ukrainian forces were forced to withdraw from a neighbourhood of Chasiv Yar, a strategic hilltop town in Donetsk. But the absence of dramatic gains, even in the face of Ukraine’s weakness, has raised questions about Russia’s capabilities. Ukraine may be struggling to hold the frontline but it has taken the drone war to the Black Sea and Russia’s mainland. It has incapacitated Russian ships, repeatedly targeted Russia’s energy depots using drones and struck Russia’s border regions causing civilian and military casualties. Two and a half years after the war began, no side is seen capable of finding a military solution. For Ukraine, pushing Russian troops out of the territories they have captured looks practically impossible. Russia should also realise that its aggression has rejuvenated NATO, its sworn enemy, that has expanded since the war began and promised Kyiv long-term assistance. A practical path ahead is to bring both sides to the table. China’s President Xi Jinping said on Monday that world powers should help them hold talks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Moscow, also expressed India’s support for dialogue. Russia’s partners should convince Russian President Vladimir Putin of the need to stop these mindless attacks on Ukraine and be ready for serious dialogue. Ukraine’s allies should also put pressure on Kyiv to be more open minded about bringing the war to an end through talks.

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