As RedState reported earlier on Friday, Vladimir Putin’s plan to overtake Ukraine is not going particularly well. The four-pronged attack has stretched supply lines thin and weakened Russia’s ability to strike the decisive blow it was looking for. Specifically, plans to take the capital city of Kyiv have fallen well short of expectations and the resistance there now represents a huge problem for Russian forces staring a bloody urban conflict in the face.
Multiple airborne assaults meant to take the city have been rebuffed since the invasion began, and Ukraine has now struck a major blow on that front, downing an Il-76 transport plane. With a capacity of 126 paratroopers and every reason to believe it was full, the number of deaths for Russian forces continues to far surpass pre-invasion estimates.
Ukraine’s Air Defense downed a Russian Ilyushin II-76 carrying a landing force near Vasylkiv south of Kyiv
— Illia Ponomarenko (@IAPonomarenko) February 25, 2022
That followed video Friday showing that the Ukrainians had downed a Russian Sukhoi fighter (which variant was in question).
On the first day of the invasion, Putin declared that Russia had neutralized Ukraine’s air defense systems. That claim has now been proven false, not just by this shootdown, but by photographic evidence. And just as a point of clarity, Babak Taghvaee has been absolutely trustworthy regarding not just the Ukraine conflict, but also conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. If there’s one account to follow for on-the-ground updates during times of war and unrest, it’s this one.
Do you know why #Russia Air Force is scared of flying its fighter jets over #Kiev & #Kharkiv? Because of the tacical air defense systems of #Ukraine Air Force & Army. They are everywhere! They change their positions every few hours! pic.twitter.com/qrAcw735WY
— Babak Taghvaee – Μπάπακ Τακβαίε – بابک تقوایی (@BabakTaghvaee) February 25, 2022
The question is going to be how far Putin is willing to go to achieve his goals because it’s now obvious they aren’t going to come easy. The populace in Kyiv is armed, and there is no sign the Ukrainians are getting ready to capitulate. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky put out another public statement warning his citizens that the coming night would be hard, but that they must prevail.
Zelensky warns Russia will storm Kyiv tonight in “vile, cruel and inhuman” fashion.
“We have to persevere tonight. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now. The night will be hard, very hard, but there will be a morning, pic.twitter.com/8bioVWKDaA
— max seddon (@maxseddon) February 25, 2022
How willing is your average Russian soldier to shoot large numbers of civilians? Because that’s what it’s going to take to capture Kyiv. Admittedly, I’m not sure what the answer to that question is. Russian forces are not the Taliban, and I don’t believe even Putin himself wants to further provoke the West by committing highly visible war crimes. While some like to describe him as irrational, nothing in Putin’s history says that. He’s dancing a fine line right now, but if he pushes too far, he could invite a response that he would not prefer to deal with.
Of course, the obvious caveats apply. Just because the Ukrainians appear to be scoring some victories and holding the line for now based on social media reports, that doesn’t mean Russia won’t eventually overtake them. In the end, I suspect this will end in some kind of negotiated settlement. Certainly, there won’t be a clean, decisive victory for either side.
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