Russia: Ukraine invasion a 'slow-moving occupation' says Wallace
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The news comes as British Defence Minister Ben Wallace and Armed Forces Minister James Heappey both hinted that, should Ukraine decide to attack targets on Russian soil, this would not breach the international laws of conflict. With the war now into its third month, very little is known about explosions at an oil storage facility and arms dump in Russia, with some suggesting they were a result of Ukrainian strikes.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, former Russian political-military analyst Josh Manning, who was assigned to the US-European Command at JAC Molesworth, and Professor Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham, both discussed their views on why Ukraine has so far held back, at least openly, when it comes to attacking Russia.
Professor Lucas gave two reasons he believed Kyiv was wary of striking Russia.
He said: “Ukraine has made it clear this is an imposed war on them and wants to defend itself first and foremost.
“By acting solely in a defensive manner, Ukraine is able to gain global support in its conquest to defend its territory.
“Attacking Russia may not gain the approval of those sponsoring Kyiv.”
The Professor also added another reason.
He continued: “Should Ukraine strike targets in Russia, this could see Moscow blame Western powers for supplying Ukraine with weapons to do so, and cause the conflict to spread into Eastern Europe and possibly beyond.”
Also discussing the notion of why Ukraine has not escalated its attacks on Russia, Mr Manning said: “I think Ukraine is trying to walk the tightrope between ensuring Russia doesn’t have strategic manoeuvre room near the border to refit and serve its military forces without ‘waking the bear’.
“Though, as we have seen the last months, the bear is awake and slapping at the country in a very ham-handed way.
“So I’m not sure the Ukrainians are factoring in the idea of further angering Russia.
“Honestly, the wider they try to make the conflict by attempting strikes outside of eastern Ukraine, the better the chances are for Ukrainians to really deal another fatal blow to the Russian military.”
With Britain hinting at a ‘green light’ for Ukraine to hit Russia, Mr Manning was asked whether he thought the timing was right to do so.
He said: “Yes, the timing is very right.
“Russia is deeply wounded and trying to take some time to do what it does best: a more limited conflict in its nearer abroad and with the border close for better logistical support.
“This is what it did in Georgia pretty well and really well with the hybrid conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
“So if the goal is further limit and scope, the Russian military’s ability to take parts of eastern Ukraine, you need to make sure you cut off the potential for success.
“Both within Ukraine and if you can covertly gum up the works inside of Russia, then you do so, but quietly… accidents happen.”
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Much like Professor Lucas, Mr Manning was also concerned Russia would blame the West should any strikes occur within its territory.
The former intelligence analyst said: “The Kremlin will blame the West, especially NATO for any and all problems inside of Russia.
“They can’t say it’s Ukraine because they are supposedly winning this ‘special operation’.
“So if the Russian populace thinks Ukraine has this ability, they might question the regime’s messaging.
“This would ramp up Russian attacks and missiles into NATO members Romania and Poland.
“It could also lead to wider cyber-attacks into the UK, US and elsewhere.
“But I think Russians have been trying and have learned a good deal about cyber defence to their attacks over the last couple of decades.
“So they can try, but as we have seen in the last couple of months it probably not going to be effective.”
Is it time Ukraine started hitting back at Russian targets within Russia? How would Putin react to such events? Should the West provide more sophisticated arms to Kyiv in order to hit Russia on its own soil? Let us know what you think by joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!
Finally, speaking of how he thought the war has gone so far, particularly from the aspect of Ukraine’s defences, Mr Manning gave a glowing report about Kyiv.
He concluded: “I have been super buoyed and happy about how Ukraine has handled and emerged from this conflict.
“I think it will become a beacon of light for the region, and honestly, it already has.
“So we need to follow their lead, and build on it, as we enter this next phase of the conflict.”
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