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The Economist: ATACMS Missiles Empower Ukraine to Target All of Occupied Crimea

Ukraine’s acquisition of ATACMS ballistic missiles from the US, boasting a range of 300 km, empowers the nation to effectively target any location within Russian-occupied Crimea “with deadly effect,” according to The Economist.

Ukraine’s strategic efforts to dismantle military targets in Crimea have garnered success. Ben Hodges, former commander of US forces in Europe and NATO’s senior logistics adviser, noted that Ukrainians are “systematically working to make Ukraine uninhabitable for Russian troops.”

Since 2018, Putin has regarded Crimea, linked to the mainland by the Kerch Bridge, as “unsinkable aircraft carrier” crucial for dominating southern Ukraine, obstructing vital grain exports, and ensuring a steady resource flow to sustain Russian efforts in Donbas.

The Kremlin’s significant investment in military infrastructure in Crimea now faces a threat. Crimea’s long coastline and need for heavy defenses make it a weak spot for Russia. Because of this, Ukrainian attacks there could force Russia to make concessions, according to British strategist Lawrence Friedman. Nico Lange, a former adviser to the German defense ministry, shares this view, stating that Ukraine aims to transform Crimea from an asset to a liability for Putin by isolating it and pushing Russian forces away from southern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s utilization of ATACMS missiles and advanced domestically made drones is progressively undermining Russian air defenses in Crimea, striking air bases, and targeting crucial logistical and economic facilities. Friedman suggests that this strategy may also be preparatory for the anticipated arrival of F-16 fighter jets from Europe.

“Crimea,” says Ben Barry of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “has been turned from being a prestige project to a drain on Russian resources.”

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