Kremlin Intensifies Strikes on Kharkiv to Force Civilian Evacuation, ISW Reports

Russia escalates strikes on Kharkiv to force civilian evacuation, but Ukraine's defenses remain strong with Western military aid. Kremlin's campaign of intimidation through attacks on infrastructure and disinformation aims to displace Ukrainians ahead of a potential offensive.

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Kremlin Intensifies Strikes on Kharkiv to Force Civilian Evacuation, ISW Reports

Kremlin Intensifies Strikes on Kharkiv to Force Civilian Evacuation, ISW Reports

The Kremlin has increased strikes and information operations against Kharkiv, Ukraine, in an attempt to compel a civilian evacuation, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) published on April 23, 2024. Russian forces have escalated attacks on Kharkiv's power grid and apartment blocks, and on Monday, a Russian missile struck the city's 250-meter-high TV tower, breaking it in half and halting transmissions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the missile strike on the television tower was part of the Kremlin's ongoing attempt to intimidate the city and limit its access to information. The northeastern Kharkiv region has been under increasing attack from Russia since late March, with the Kremlin apparently aiming to exploit Ukraine's shortage of air defense systems.

Why this matters: The increased strikes on Kharkiv highlight the ongoing struggle for control of the region and the broader conflict in Ukraine. The Kremlin's efforts to force a civilian evacuation through a combination of military strikes and disinformation campaigns underscore the human toll of the war and the challenges faced by Ukrainian forces in defending their territory.

The ISW believes the Kremlin may be planning a ground assault on Kharkiv and is conducting air and information operations to destroy the city, convince Ukrainians to flee, and internally displace millions of Ukrainians ahead of a possible future Russian offensive. However, the ISW assessed the likelihood of a successful Russian ground offensive against Kharkiv as "very low," provided Ukraine receives renewed US military aid.

Ukraine is seeking more military assistance from its Western partners to bolster its defenses. The U.S. Senate is set to vote on $61 billion in war aid to Ukraine, which Zelenskyy said will include long-range and artillery capabilities. Britain has also pledged £500 million in new military supplies for Ukraine, including long-range Storm Shadow missiles. However, EU countries with Patriot air defense systems have not yet committed to sending them to Ukraine, which is desperately seeking at least seven of the missile batteries.

The latest attack on Kharkiv's television broadcasting tower was likely intended to "create panic among Ukrainians," according to the ISW report. Western officials do not believe Russia currently has the capability to launch a new ground offensive against Kharkiv "without a major replenishment of Russian troops." As the

Key Takeaways

  • Russia escalates strikes on Kharkiv to force civilian evacuation.
  • Missile strike on TV tower part of Kremlin's intimidation campaign.
  • ISW assesses low likelihood of successful Russian ground offensive.
  • Ukraine seeks more military aid, including long-range weapons.
  • Russia lacks capability for new Kharkiv offensive without troop replenishment.