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Even by Russian standards, this was a particularly repugnant attack

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Editor’s note: Michel Bociurkiw (@WorldAffairsPro) is a global business analyst currently based in Odessa. He is a senior researcher at the Atlantic Council and a former spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He regularly contributes to CNN Opinion. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. See more opinions on CNN.


Odessa
CNN

As Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches a year, the bombing of a residential building in Dnipro on Saturday should not be seen as just a red line crossed by the Kremlin.

What makes the Dnipro attack particularly repugnant is that it struck at the heart of a town that had been considered a haven for internally displaced persons (IDPs) since the outbreak of hostilities between Ukraine and Russia in 2014.

With a warhead of almost a metric ton, it created a scene of destruction described by some in Dnipro as “hell”. He killed at least 45 people, including five children, and dozens more missing.

The shock of this strike could very well create a second generation of internally displaced people. Which could, in turn, put additional pressure on already congested havens such as Lviv in western Ukraine.

Already, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the attack a “war crime”. It is not difficult to understand why.

The cruise missile that hit the Dnipro building, Ukrainian officials say, was designed to sink ships. Indeed, it was the same type of missile used to strike a busy shopping mall in central Ukraine last summer.

Shortly after the attack on a multi-storey residential building, European Union spokesman Peter Stano said Russia’s increasing targeting of civilians in their homes was a “sign of an escalation” of from the Kremlin. He added that the EU was discussing how to react.

The consequences of the missile strike on a residential building in Dnipro on Saturday.

Of course, the inhabitants of Dnipro are not the only ones to suffer the onslaught of Russian aggression. On the same day, waves of missiles hit major cities in Ukraine. In the capital Kyiv, residents were not given the opportunity to seek refuge in bomb shelters because the type of missile used, as well as its trajectory, did not trigger air defense systems or anti-aircraft sirens. airlines now common.

Over the course of a year, time and time again, we have witnessed horrific Russian attacks on places where civilians should have been safe. The bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol in March, a missile strike on a busy shopping center in Kremenchuk in June, the direct hit on a shopping center in Kyiv in March.

As the search and rescue operation at a destroyed building in Dnipro officially ends, army and police continue to gather at the site where some 45 people, including five children, were killed on Saturday.

As soon as we thought we saw the bottom of Russia’s inhumanity, the Kremlin committed another mass atrocity. And as the list of barbaric atrocities grows — let’s not forget the hundreds of bodies, some with their hands tied behind their backs, found in Kyiv’s once booming suburb of Bucha — the Kremlin’s explanations become more and more fragile day by day.

After a Russian missile strike on a four-star hotel in central Kyiv on New Year’s Eve, Russia claimed a NATO office was located there.

And last weekend, Sergei Markov, a former close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, echoed statements by Russian diplomats when he told Al Jazeera’s Inside Story that “Russia has never targeted neighborhoods civilians”. Without providing evidence, Markov also suggested that the Ukrainian air defense was to blame for the missiles over residential areas.

As the war enters its second calendar year, there are fears that Russia is preparing for another massive invasion, with the Institute for the Study of War predicting an attempt to seize Kyiv and Odessa.

He believes that Russia will take “decisive strategic action in the next six months aimed at regaining the initiative”.

Putin’s reshuffling of the chaise lounges in the upper ranks of the war command and the appointment of Russia’s most senior uniformed officer, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, to lead the invasion also appear to be part of the move. an effort to regain the initiative on the battlefield after a series of humiliating losses – including the fall of the regional center, Kherson.

While all of this isn’t particularly good news for the Ukrainian side, what could help swing the war decisively in Ukraine’s favor is the arrival of U.S.-designed main battle tanks. NATO from UK and European countries.

Over the weekend, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunk announced that Ukraine would receive 14 fourth-generation Challenger 2 tanks after the Cold War, which is the size of a squadron. Armored combat vehicles are also part of the lot.

But with time running out and the window of opportunity closing to provide Ukraine with the kit it needs to deliver a decisive blow against Russia, European governments are still debating whether to follow London’s lead and to send main battle tanks to Ukraine.

The key player here is Germany, as it must give the green light to send one of its advanced Leopard tanks currently stationed in 13 European countries, including Poland and Finland.

Nobody knows why this delay, but what baffles me is why western leaders have not yet realized that if they don’t help Ukraine now to push Putin away, this war will increasingly become their problem – with additional militarization. food, energy and migration.

Already, the war has spread beyond Ukraine’s borders – from millions of asylum seekers depleting resources in European countries to blackouts in neighboring Moldova.

In direct response to the Dnipro bombing and the heinous crimes that preceded it, isn’t it high time the Biden administration finally declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism?

That, said political analyst Jessica Berlinwould tighten the noose of the sanctions to the point where “they would extend further to any other company in the world doing business with Russian entities”.

Allowing this degree of barbarism on the part of Russia to continue not only encourages other autocratic-ruled nations to follow suit, but will lead to further civilian deaths in Ukraine.

Anything less than a robust and unified Western response to Russia’s war on Ukraine could see cities like Dnipro turn into a vast sea of ​​shattered Aleppo.

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