Hhat now the third phase of the war begun? In any case, in recent days some observers of the Russian campaign against Ukraine have proclaimed the end of the second phase. It consisted of an attempt by the Russian armed forces to expand westwards, with massive use of artillery, the areas they previously controlled (the separatist “People’s Republics”) in the eastern tip of the country.
Now the offensive is faltering again, also thanks to Western arms deliveries to Ukraine. And the Ukrainians’ will to resist in all regions has strengthened even further: 84 percent of those surveyed are against any relinquishment of territories, even if that were to prolong the war.
Now there are increasing signs that Moscow is banking on further brutalization. If the second phase was aptly predicted to be “bloody” (as a major artillery battle) than the first, the third phase now threatens to become “dirtier”. The killing of about 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war under Russian supervision on Friday, from a Russian perspective by Ukrainian rocket fire, could be one of these signals.
This war can get even more brutal
This is reminiscent of the alleged “stress-related” death in early July of a Briton who may have fought on the Ukrainian side and was taken prisoner in Donbass.
Why put such prisoners on trial and blame themselves when there is an “easier” way to take them out of circulation in an irregular manner? The Russian embassy in London called for “humiliating death by hanging”.
A horrific video in which a Russian soldier appears to castrate a Ukrainian prisoner is also part of the irregular warfare. So it is not surprising that the Ukrainian President Zelenskyj is now announcing the evacuation of the part of the Donetsk district that is still free. Is the war entering a new phase? Can this war get any more brutal? Yes, that is possible.