INTERVIEW. War in Ukraine: “In the event of an attack, the nuclear threat is a lever that Russia will use” says a specialist

INTERVIEW.  War in Ukraine: "In the event of an attack, the nuclear threat is a lever that Russia will use" says a specialist

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Ukrainian strikes in Crimea, tensions around the Zaporijia power plant, counter-offensive in the Kherson region… a new stage in the war in Ukraine has begun. Carole Grimaud, specialist in Russian and Ukrainian geopolitics, explains the challenges of this new chapter.

For several days, the Ukrainian army has been hitting the various bridges in the city of Kherson to isolate it. Occupied by the Russians since the first days of the war, the city holds a highly strategic place that the Ukrainians would like to recover. This response is one of the pieces of the puzzle that constitutes the Ukrainian counter-offensive, Carole Grimaud, professor of geopolitics, explains to us what is at stake.

What are we referring to when we talk about the Ukrainian counter-offensive?

At the beginning of the war the Ukrainian president Zelensky did not want this counter-offensive because he had declared that there would be too many human losses. He apparently reconsidered his decision since various actions were carried out by the Ukrainian army in Crimea but also in the region of Kherson. A possible possibility thanks to international and more particularly American aid which has provided many weapons, such as Himars, which make it possible to reach distant targets and thus to take back certain cities.

Credits: Carole Grimaud

Credits: Carole Grimaud

What is the strategy of the Ukrainians?

The purpose of this counter-offensive is above all to dry up the capacity of Russian power so that they eventually withdraw. For this, the Ukrainians are trying to undermine the resupply of the Russians by hitting and destroying the infrastructure. In Crimea, Russian airbases were targeted by the army for the second time on Tuesday, August 16.

For several days, the Ukrainian army has also been striking certain bridges in the city of Kherson to prevent the deployment of enemy troops from the east. Crucial places for the supply of the Russian occupation troops.

Will that be enough for the Russians to withdraw?

The problem is that it would be necessary to destroy all the ammunition of the Russians for this strategy to work. However, we do not know how many they have, where they are, how long they can last with them and if they can resist this Ukrainian offensive. On the Ukrainian side, there are clearly not enough men and weapons to carry out a real counter-offensive.

The strategy of destroying the bridges in Kherson, for example, undermines Russian resupply, but by doing this the Ukrainians cancel a possibility of a counter-offensive on the city because they can no longer access it.

Are Ukrainians pressed for time?

The “Russification” of the occupied regions has already begun since March. Russian passports are distributed, the exchange currency is the rouble, the school programs have been modified… The next step: Russia wishes to annex the occupied regions. The country is preparing a referendum around September 10, in order to integrate the regions of Kherson and Zaporijjia into the Russian Federation, as Moscow had already done with Crimea a few years earlier. There is a good chance that Russians will vote the same way as in 2014, even if the referendum will once again not be recognized by Ukraine and Western countries.

Can we expect a response from the Russians?

If Ukraine claims, which it has not done for the moment, attacks against Crimea, we can expect a strong response from Russia. The simplest ? Blackmail as they are already doing with the Zaporijia power station, which they seized on March 4. The nuclear threat is of course a lever that they will use.

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