'Partisans' using guerrilla warfare against Russians in Ukraine

This morning the NY Times published a story about a group of Ukrainian fighters known as “partisans” who are using guerrilla warfare tactics to kill Russians and damage their war effort. For instance, the recent attack on a Russian airbase in Crimea which destroyed eight Russian jets was the work of the partisans. This and a previous attack on an ammunition depot in Crimea were intended to remind Russians that they are never safe.

“The goal is to show the occupiers that they are not at home, that they should not settle in, that they should not sleep comfortably,” said one guerrilla fighter, who spoke on condition that, for security reasons, he only be identified by his code name, Svarog, after a pagan Slavic god of fire…

After the invasion, Svarog said, he was directed to a cache in a storage shed outside Melitopol, where he found slabs of high explosives, detonators, Kalashnikov rifles, a grenade launcher and two pistols equipped with silencers…

In a strike last week, he said, his cell booby-trapped the car of Oleg Shostak, a Ukrainian who had joined the Russian political party United Russia in Melitopol. The insurgents targeted him because they suspected him of tailoring propaganda to appeal to local residents…

Whether targeted people survive or die in the attacks, partisans say, is less important than the signal they send with each strike: You are never safe.

A Ukrainian military official described several more recent attacks carried out by these irregular fighters.

The official described a poisoning in the Zaporizhzhia region that killed around 15 Russian soldiers and the sabotage of a grain elevator in the Kherson Region that prevented Russian forces from stealing 60,000 tons of grain. Neither operation could be independently verified.

Partisans were also behind an explosion on Saturday that disabled a railroad bridge connecting the city of Melitopol to Crimea, halting the supply of military equipment coming into the Zaporizhzhia region.

“They’re frightening people, these Ukrainian partisans,” the official said. “But they’re frightening only for the occupiers.”

Tuesday night, President Zelensky warned Ukrainians to avoid Russian controlled areas for their own safety. “I am asking now all our people in Crimea, in other regions in the south of Ukraine, in occupied areas of Donbas and Kharkiv region to be very careful,” he said.

As if to make the point, there was an attack on a Russian ammunition depot in Crimea yesterday. In this clip you can see a lot of explosions happening one after another.

These attacks are once again convincing a lot of Russians that it’s time to leave Crimea. This clip shows the line of cars heading out yesterday.

I can’t verify this (because I don’t speak Russian) but this clip apparently shows a Russian woman crying as she and her family leave Crimea.

Russia has previously threatened “Judgment Day” for Ukraine if they leveled attacks on Russian-controlled Crimea. Now that those attacks are happening regularly there are call for Russia to strike back hard. But it sounds like Putin isn’t ready or able to make good on those threats.

After Tuesday’s blasts, some pro-Kremlin commentators were calling on the military to make good on those threats. Andrei Klishas, a senior lawmaker from Mr. Putin’s United Russia party, said in a social media post that “Russia’s retaliatory strikes must be very convincing.”

“This is about protecting our sovereignty,” he wrote.

But Mr. Putin, who addressed a security conference in Moscow by video link on Tuesday a few hours after the early-morning blasts in Crimea, made no mention of the attack.

This continues to look bad for Russia and is clearly not the victory Russians were promised. How long can Russia keep this up?

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