Promises Made, Promises Broken

Russia has continued to launch artillery strikes on Ukraine’s Black Sea port cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv on June 26, 2022, just days after signing documents in Turkey, promising they would not do so. These latest attacks follow those on the same region initiated three days ago. In this most recent round of airstrikes, however, civilian buildings and port infrastructure has been struck and damaged.

Residents of the greater Odessa area walk in the yard of their destroyed apartment on July 26, 2022, after a Russian airstrike hit it. Image Credit: Michael Shtekel/AP

Ukraine’s Operational Command South reports in a Facebook post that the enemy used air-launched missiles in this attack. The strikes were concentrated on the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions. Civilian targets were destroyed in Odessa, while in Mykolaiv, Russians targeted port infrastructure. This contradicts documents signed by Moscow and Kyiv last Friday stating the Russians would allow badly needed grain shipments to begin moving again unmolested.

Shortly after this latest round of strikes, a Russian official in southern Ukraine told the press that the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions would soon be “liberated” by Russian forces, much like they had done in the already occupied Kherson region in the east. Unfortunately, I fear that, in this case, “liberated” means heavily shelled, overrun, and taken by force.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russian official speaking on the matter, was quoted by RIA Novosti (a Russian state news agency) as saying, “The Kherson region and the city of Kherson have been liberated forever.” Time will tell.

Moscow Claims the West is Blocking Peace Talks

While all this destruction and promise-breaking was going on, Russia’s top diplomat continued spouting the Kremlin line insisting that Moscow is ready to hold talks with Ukraine to end the war. Yet, at the same time, he stated that Ukraine’s Western allies opposed the peace deal.

Footage of the aftermath of the recent strikes on Odessa. No people are shown in this video, and the content is not particularly sensitive (in my opinion) unless you are upset by bombed-out buildings.

Video courtesy of Twitter and @Nikolai11449196

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking today while on a trip to Uganda, said, “We never refused to have talks because everybody knows that any hostilities end at the negotiating table.” However, he noted that peace talks had not progressed since both sides met in Istanbul in late March.

Ukrainian Standoff

Tensions in the region may be at a standstill as the British Defense Ministry rightfully noted that the plethora of anti-ship missiles currently in the Black Sea region act as a “key threat” to limiting the movement of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

A Harpoon Block 1C missile currently available to Ukrainian forces is shown here, being launched in 2016. Image Credit: Bryce Hadley/US Navy

The US has provided Ukraine with Harpoon and Naval Strike missiles capable of sinking any vessels the Russians might try to sail in the Black Sea. The Brits sent Harpoons as well. Regarding that, the official of the British Defense Ministry went on to say,

“This has significantly undermined the overall invasion plan, as Russia cannot realistically attempt an amphibious assault to seize Odesa. Russia will continue to prioritize efforts to degrade and destroy Ukraine’s anti-ship capability.”

But there is where the stalemate comes to a head. That same military official also reminds us that “Russia’s targeting processes are highly likely routinely undermined by dated intelligence, poor planning, and a top-down approach to operations.”

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To me, that says the Russians are highly unlikely to be able to defeat the anti-ship missiles and, therefore, will keep their warships in port.

The deadly chess game continues.