From Rossiiskaya gazeta, Feb. 25, 2022, p. 3 Condensed text:
[Editors’ Note. – This article features expert opinions on the special operation in Ukraine.]
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Igor Korotchenko, editor in chief of the journal Natsionalnaya oborona [National Defense].
The task of Russia’s military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine over the next few hours is to deprive the Ukrainian] General Staff of its ability to centrally command and control troops. The next step will be to disable the military airfield network, as well as destroy the positions of air defense systems and operational-tactical missiles. This is how the mission of achieving complete air supremacy is being accomplished.
The logic of such actions is clear, justified and perfectly defined. Under these conditions, one can hardly say that the Ukrainian Army will be able to put up organized, firm and long-term resistance.
Now let’s move on to the resources used by our military. In the course of the military operation in Syria, it developed an entire arsenal of conventional means for remotely destroying the enemy. These are still being used to strike targets. It can be assumed that Kalibr cruise missiles and Iskander‑M operational-tactical [missile] systems are being launched, along with strike drones and other high-precision weapons. These rule out any negative impact on Ukraine’s civilian population and civilian infrastructure. But they provide high-precision – I would say surgical – strikes, primarily on its military facilities. This is what’s going on with the initial goals of the operation.
Then, obviously, if the relevant decision is made, the Russian units will move forward to block and disarm groups of Ukrainian troops. They will be asked to surrender their weapons and go home without any problems.
As for the final milestones and the completion of the operation, we cannot yet speak confidently about them. But from a political point of view, it is probably expedient to establish Russian military control over eastern and southeastern Ukraine with access to Transnistria. Whether the demarcation line will run along the Dnepr or go farther west will be decided based on political and military expediency.
For Russia, Zelensky is now a war criminal, and that carries all the ensuing consequences for him. Perhaps in the next few hours Zelensky will be evacuated to one of the European capitals. Maybe to Warsaw, Vilnius or London.
I don’t think that NATO and the US will get involved in a military escapade in Ukraine. This has already been clearly stated by US President [Joe] Biden, for whom the main priority is the security of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Additional contingents of troops are already being sent there. It is said that the US Army will not fight for Ukraine. Our president, in his statement, sent a rather harsh message to those who may try to prevent the Russian military operation by force.
It is clear that rather tough economic, financial and political sanctions await us. But when they decided to carry out this operation, the Russian political leadership must have been preparing for these in advance and thinking about how to neutralize the negative consequences for our economy.
We can say that a new geopolitical reality is coming – in fact, a new historical era. The task is to make Ukraine a neutral, nonaligned denazified country whose statehood will now be guaranteed by Russia. In the future, this may open a window for some kind of dialogue with the West, [as well as] the development of new mechanisms for ensuring security in Europe and overall global strategic stability. Sooner or later, I think, the West will have to come to terms with the new geopolitical reality and understand the irreversibility of these processes.
Dmitry [sic; Viktor] Litovkin, editor in chief [sic; managing editor] of Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye [Independent Military Review].
Our Armed Forces have used high-precision weapons to carry out missions of the special military operation in Ukraine. It is with good reason that the Russian Ministry of Defense stressed in its very first message that there is no threat to the civilian population. That is, the operation was planned in such a way as to avoid massive loss of life and major destruction of civilian infrastructure.
In my opinion, it is primarily the use of Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles with a range of 2,500 km to 3,500 km that makes achieving this goal possible. They are known to work accurately not only against objects at sea, but also against land targets. The Russian Black Sea and Baltic Fleets now have ship groups that possess this powerful weapon. I think Kalibrs could reach [targets] even from the Caspian.
The admirals did not even need to pull any [ships] up to Russia’s southern region. Remember, in recent weeks the Navy command has been conducting major naval exercises, and almost the entire Russian fleet has been deployed to operational and strategic areas. So ships and submarines could use these weapons during the special military operation. . . .
Ground-based high-precision weapons include the Iskander operational-tactical systems. Whether they are being used now in Ukraine, I cannot say. But I think they will definitely be used for strikes against well-fortified military facilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the event of serious resistance to Russian troops.