Saturday 5 March 2022

Kiev's citizens are now expecting a siege that will take months rather than days


So says an item in the Daily Telegraph today, and it may very well be true, but no-one knows what will happen. Putin must conquer though he cannot effectively suppress Ukraine and I imagine he probably has the means and brutality to capture Kiev. 

Yet fighting in cities is notoriously difficult and brutal. Stalingrad, Grozny, Aleppo. What happened in Eastern Aleppo is unclear though the Russians no doubt committed terrible war crimes. Many (no-one knows how many) of the inhabitants preferred Assad to the rebels. In Grozny Putin, if he did not exactly make a solitude and called peace, triumphed with the utmost brutality.

What then? He does what America and England should have done in Afghanistan, set up a new government and withdraw?

With the Ukrainian capital now entering its second weekend under assault, a sense of calm is slowly returning, amid expectations that any siege may now take months. Loud blasts can usually be heard across the city at least several times a day, and sometimes more. But many residents no longer scramble for bunkers when they hear the regular air raid sirens, aware that most of the fighting is still well beyond even the city outskirts.

The massive Russian armoured column that was snaking its way towards the city from the north-west, for example, no longer seems quite the menace that it was when satellite imagery first reported earlier this month. Despite its awesome size - some 40 miles long - much of it is now believed to be dribs and drabs of support vehicles, which one Western official said on Friday had become a "huge traffic jam" after logistical difficulties. It has made little progress for days, and has also become a sitting duck for Ukrainian air force attacks.

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