The Russian assault on Ukraine is ongoing, with Russian forces moving on major population centers including Mariupol in the southeast and the capital, Kyiv. As the war moves into major cities, Russia has started to deploy brutal siege tactics — like using cluster munitions and bombing civilian infrastructure — which its military previously utilized in conflicts in Syria and Chechnya.
Such tactics could be a prelude to costly street-to-street fighting as Russia attempts to take Ukraine’s major cities, though tactical blunders on the ground, particularly outside of Kyiv, have in some cases stalled Russian ground advances.
According to Rita Konaev, the associate director of analysis at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Russia’s evolving military tactics underscore a new direction for the conflict.
“The Russian approach to urban warfare very much emphasizes priming and prepping the ground for any sort of ground operation with this destruction from the air. It’s to break morale, it’s to cause significant damage to the infrastructure of cities, it’s to cause high levels of displacement from the cities,” Konaev told Vox. “That air campaign is an integrated and important part of the way that Russia sees warfare.”
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