Russian missile strikes are intended to terrorise Ukraine’s civilians and make its backers think again. They should not be cowed
Vladimir Putin’s absence from the G20 summit in Bali, and the wave upon wave of missiles that struck Ukraine on Tuesday night, are both testament to the Russian president’s failure. Moscow remains diplomatically isolated by a large part of the international community, and its troops continue to lose on the battlefield – most recently evidenced by last week’s retreat from Kherson, the only major city that they had managed to capture. Mr Putin lost his gamble that he could defenestrate the Ukrainian government in February, and he is still losing.
His response is to terrorise civilians once more. Putting Sergei Surovikin, the man who oversaw the destruction of Aleppo and other Syrian cities, in charge of this war emphasises that the strategy is to maximise suffering and grind down morale. As the foreign secretary, James Cleverly, told MPs on Wednesday: “We know what Putin intends to do – to starve and freeze the Ukrainians into submission.”