The Russian invasion of Ukraine has now brought the world to the brink of a nuclear disaster. The Russian army deliberately opened fire today on the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant managed by the Ukrainian state enterprise UkrEnergoAtom.
It is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. Fire has broken out at the plant and it is very difficult to put out. Hostilities are ongoing in the vicinity of the 4 reactors, which have currently been shut down.
The actions of the Russian troops are chaotic and unpredictable: a man-made catastrophe in southern Ukraine could provoke irreversible consequences for the entire Black Sea region with a radioactive disaster 6 times worse than Chernobyl. Russia is failing to take into account the possible risks and implications of its aggression on civilian infrastructure.
Having suffered a crushing rebuff in the first days of the invasion, the Russian troops have switched to combat operations with the use of criminal and terrorist methods of warfare, that ignore the laws and customs of war. Massive destruction is being inflicted on civilian infrastructure, the invaders are shooting civilians, encircling and blockading settlements, provoking food shortages and causing humanitarian catastrophe.
Throughout the first nine days of the war, the Russian army suffered huge losses with over 10,000 of their troops killed, and massive destruction of military equipment. There is no front line as such: the invading forces simply move along the roads between settlements and clash with the Ukrainian Army and the local population on the way. In the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, 17 000 Russian troops were killed over a period of 9 years; in Ukraine by comparison, the Russian army losses of more than 1 000 deaths per day are shocking. This cannot go unnoticed in Russia, even with state control of the media outlets and news censorship in that country.
At the moment, Russia is trying to win over loyalty of at least part of Ukrainian society. The invaders are trying to set up broadcasting of Russian television in the temporarily occupied territories. This proves that the Russian military machine’s potential is drying up. Now they are launching propaganda efforts in an attempt to justify their invasion of Ukraine. But their brutality towards Ukrainian people has guaranteed their hatred and strengthened the resolve of all Ukrainians.
Suffering more and more losses, the invaders are gradually reducing their demands to the Ukrainian government. In parallel, they are intensifying their efforts to undermine the morale of Ukrainians, such as by spreading fake news about an alleged “imminent surrender.”
As of 4 March, the Russian occupying forces now place great emphasis on information warfare, propaganda, and censorship. This could be a signal that ordinary citizens in Russia are aware of what is happening in Ukraine and of the implications for themselves. This suggests that the effect of sanctions will be increasingly felt as they bite further and that mass discontent may follow.