The Russian news agency Izvestia is reporting that on April 14th, Ukrainian forces launched strikes inside Russia on the village of Klimovo in the Bryansk region, destroying 100 homes and injuring eight civilians.  Russia is also claiming that two settlements in the Belgorod region, Bezymeno and Spodaryusheno were shelled by artillery requiring their temporary evacuation. There was no reported damage or casualties reported in these alleged attacks.

According to Russian state-controlled media, these attacks follow a supposed Ukrainian attack on a Kursk region border checkpoint on April 13th.

Quoting a Russian military expert named Alexey Leonkov,  Izvestia states that these attacks on Russia are an attempt by Ukraine to undermine the morale of Russian citizens in their support of the “Special Military Operation” that Putin has launched against Ukraine,  “They [Ukraine’s forces] are attempting to persuade Russian citizens to demand that the special military operation be halted,” according to Izvestia.

These claims by Russia are most likely false for several reasons.

First, Ukraine is not in this war alone, it very much depends on the goodwill of the US, NATO, and other countries for funds, weapons, intelligence, and even manpower in the form of volunteers flocking to Ukraine to help them in the war..  Ukraine attacking purely civilian targets to terrorize Russian civilians would result in support from the international community drying up blowing away like dust.

By contrast, while Ukraine has not claimed responsibility, they most likely did hit the Russian oil storage facility in Belgorod at the end of March.  That was a legitimate military target, it did not target or kill civilians and neither the US nor NATO protested that it should have been off-limits as a target.

Second, The attacks described by Russia destroyed 100 homes, but miraculously killed no one and only wounded 8 people.    In the other attacks, no one was killed there either. That seems to be extraordinary bad shooting for Ukraine which is capable of pretty precise targeting of Russian tanks, trucks, soldiers, and now even guided missile cruisers.  Ukraine knows that Russian civilians have very little say in the conduct of the war against their country. They really don’t have the ability to stop Putin with protests or angry letters to the editors of Pravda or Sputnik, so Ukraine attacking Russian civilians is a waste of time and valuable military resources that Ukraine needs to fight armed Russian inside their own country.

Finally, Ukraine’s own civil population has been bombed and rocketed by Russia almost since the beginning of the conflict.  Ukraine would be incredibly stupid to bomb Russian civilians and therefore give Russia a ready justification to bomb Ukrainian civilians in reprisal.  From what we’ve seen of the Ukrainian military so far, they just aren’t that stupid.

That last reason the Ukrainians probably didn’t do this, is also the reason the Russian probably did stage the attack, to justify their continued attacks on Ukrainian civilian areas as reprisals instead of the provocations and war crimes that they are.

Russia has been caught doing this already, On March 24th, a Russian aircraft attacked the Belarusian border village of Kopani flying in from Ukrainian airspace in an attempt to make it appear that Ukraine had attacked Belarus. It didn’t take long for social media users to post images of rocket artillery in Belarus being fired into Ukraine. Belarus is supposedly a neutral party in this war.

Attacks on civilian populations is not the exception in Russian military operations but the rule.  There is no example in Russian military history that we are aware of where the Russian army did also make war on the civilian population of an adversary.  In their doctrine, targeting the civilian population assists in breaking the enemy’s will to fight on. In 2019 Putin repudiated Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention which prohibits attacks on civilian populations so bombing civilians isn’t “illegal” to his mind at this point.

An article in Tass quoting Izvestia(both are Kremlin controlled media outlets) about Ukraine’s supposed attack on Russia does contain this rather classic case of self-projection onto your adversary by a Russian military expert.  He explains why Russia engages in attacks on civilians while attributing it to Ukraine.

Military expert Alexey Leonkov told Izvestia that attacks on the Russian territory are intended to incite negative emotions among the country’s population. “They [Ukraine’s forces] are attempting to persuade Russian citizens to demand that the special military operation be halted,” he told Izvestia.

“There are no military objectives there, such strikes have no immediate impact either. They will have no effect on whether or not our troops will fight. On the contrary, they will fight even harder,” the expert believes. “The goal is different altogether – to exert information and psychological pressure on Russian people. On the one hand, this is a provocation, and on the other, this is discreditation, an attempt to show people that the army cannot defend them, that the authorities do not care about the people, and so on,” he added.

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