The Ukrainian counteroffensive is practically at a standstill in terms of territorial gains. So far this week, Zelensky’s Army has barely been able to advance in the vicinity of Bakhmut. Progress that is almost offset by what Russia has achieved from the Kreminna-Svatove axis in the direction of Tors’ke and Makiivka, in the Donetsk region, near the border with Kharkiv. Work continues to focus on damaging the Russian rear, its lines of communication and its defensive fortifications.
It is in this sense that the cluster bombs facilitated by the United States recently gained their importance. Although according to the organization ‘Human Rights Watch’, the Ukrainians would have already used this type of weapon in the liberation of Izium, the objective now is basically to get the Russian soldiers out of their holes. Russia has based its defense on trench lines that make any frontal attack difficult. of both infantry and Bradley and Leopard tanks, slowing down, in the absence of an air force worthy of the name, the pace of Ukrainian reconquest.
According to videos posted on social media, Ukraine would have already started using US cluster bombs at least in Krasnohorivka, a few kilometers west of the capital Donetsk. Although the use of this type of weapon is accompanied by controversy, because it is potentially devastating in urban environments, in principle Ukraine will only use it in open environments and protected by enemy soldiers. The complete opposite of what Russia has done in the past, no matter how much it tears its clothes now.
Ukraine employing American supplied DPICM cluster munitions exactly how Reznikov said they would; against concentrations of Russian forces, in open terrain, and away from the presence of civilians. https://t.co/3ifX3V3Vty
— Jimmy Rushton (@JimmySecUK) July 20, 2023
The importance of this new ammunition may be definitive. The Ukrainian high command itself recently declared that it “could change the war.” It is certainly the only way for Ukraine until the F-16s arrive later this year or early next year to clear the way before it can launch to make up ground. Meanwhile, she will be forced to continue operating with caution and patience, to the despair of the most doomsayers.
The “grain war”
The one who does not understand caution or patience is precisely Russia. His unilateral breach of the “grain pact” signed with Ukraine, Turkey and the European Union has led to the umpteenth act of international bullying. Not only is it systematically bombarding Odessa, from whose port thousands of tons of cereals leave, causing the deaths of several civilians, but it has raised the tension by announcing that any ship that crosses the Black Sea with the intention of transporting that grain will be considered a military objective… and the country to which the ship belongs will be taken as a war ally of Ukraine.
[Borrell acusa a Putin de encarecer los alimentos y provocar una hambruna al bloquear el mar Negro]
The consequences of this type of threat can be very dangerous.. Especially if we take into account that Russia shares the waters of the Black Sea not only with Ukraine but also with Turkey, a NATO member country. How would the Russian Army react if it found a Turkish ship in Ukrainian territorial waters willing to pick up a cargo of grain? Would he really dare to sink it and provoke a huge diplomatic conflict with one of his greatest allies in the past?
All this brings us to worsening relations between Türkiye and Russia, which have collapsed after Erdogan decided to release and return to his country several of the soldiers of the Azov Battalion that Putin had left under his care after the capture of Mariupol. The fact that Erdogan himself accepted Sweden’s accession to NATO ‘in extremis’ has not helped at all either. Putin feels betrayed and wants to punish Ukraine, yes, but without a doubt behind this decision there is an unequivocal desire to also harm Ankara.
In fact, Turkey is not the only ally whom Putin harms with his decision to prevent the transport of Ukrainian grain. The largest importer of this product is neither more nor less than China, even above the European Union. A part of that grain is used for own consumption and another for resale at a good price to other friendly countries. Presumably With this decision, what the Kremlin wants is for Xi Jinping to buy only from them now.but it’s far from clear that blackmailing Xi is a good idea when he’s pretty much your only ally in this conflict.
Perhaps, after all, the relations between the two countries -and between the two leaders- are not as close as the propaganda would have us think. This Thursday, the former US Secretary of State arrived in Beijing henry kissingerat 100 years old, with honors almost as head of state. Xi Jinping He not only received it, but he flattered it, thanked him for his diplomatic efforts in the 1970s and he staged in practice China’s desire for relations with the US to return to being moderately cordial.
[Sin tregua para Kupiansk: Rusia contraataca en el este de Járkov con más de 100.000 soldados]
Besieged by internal conflicts -the purges in the army continue and the discordant voices continue-, it seems that Putin also wants to complicate his life abroad. Ukraine’s response, so far, has been to practically copy the threat: it will consider any ship heading for Russia across the Black Sea a potential military target. Definitely, an even hotter August looms as tens of millions of people wait for the problem to be fixed. Innocents whose only goal is to have something to eat this winter.