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Putin’s attacks on key infrastructure too late to defeat Ukraine, says UK

Vladimir Putin who is trying to plunge millions of Ukrainian homes into darkness and cold this winter by destroying electricity power plants  (AP)
Vladimir Putin who is trying to plunge millions of Ukrainian homes into darkness and cold this winter by destroying electricity power plants (AP)

Vladimir Putin has ordered his missile onslaught on Ukraine’s key infrastructure too late to have the “psychological” blow to break the will of its people, British defence chiefs said Thursday.

They stressed that the Russian president had unleashed Strategic Operation for the Destruction of Critically Important Targets (SODCIT) attacks on electricity power plants and other vital infrastructure.

They believe that this policy, targeting the daily lives of millions of civilians, was launched in the hope that the water and energy shortages in a freezing winter would “demoralise the population and ultimately force the state’s leaders to capitulate”.

“However, its effectiveness as a strategy has likely been blunted because Russia has already expended a large proportion of its suitable missiles against tactical targets,” the Ministry of Defence in London said in its latest intelligence update.

“Also, with Ukraine having successfully mobilised for nine months, material and psychological effect of the SODCIT is likely less than if it was deployed in the initial period of a war.”

They stressed that the attacks were believed to be the first example of Russia attempting to use SODCIT which they described as a “key component” of the military doctrine that Moscow has adopted in recent years.

The briefing continued: “Russia envisioned SODCIT as using long-range missiles to strike an enemy state’s critical national infrastructure, rather than its military forces, to demoralise the population and ultimately force the state’s leaders to capitulate.

“Russia’s strikes continue to cause power shortages resulting in indiscriminate, widespread humanitarian suffering across Ukraine.”

In the latest development on Thursday morning on the attacks, the recently liberated city of Kherson lost its power supply after heavy shelling by Russian forces, said the regional governor.

Kherson, which had endured weeks without basic utilities such as running water and electricity, partially regained its power supply last week after Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city after Russian troops withdrew earlier in November.

Yaroslav Yanushevych, the governor of the Kherson region, blamed Russian shelling for the new power cut and said in a statement on the Telegram messaging platform that energy workers were working to fix the problem.

After living under Russian occupation for almost nine months, Kherson residents now face the danger of regular shelling in some parts of the city from Russian troops who retreated only to the opposite side of the Dnipro River.

Other Ukrainian cities are suffering power cuts after Russian air strikes.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has braced his nation for heavy attacks on infrastructure this week, as winter takes its grip on the country.

The Ukrainian General Staff said in its daily update on the fighting that the number of Russian soldiers and military equipment had decreased in Oleshky, a town not far from Kherson on the Russian-controlled side of the Dnipro.

“Enemy troops were withdrawn from certain settlements of the Kherson (region) and dispersed in forest strips along the section of the Oleshky - Hola Prystan highway,” it said, referring to a road that runs roughly parallel to the river on Russian-held territory.

Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed in Moscow that the West had had a real chance to avoid conflict in Ukraine, but had chosen to spurn Russian proposals to halt the expansion of NATO and agree a special security status for Kyiv.