A man known as “General Armageddon” is now in charge of Moscow’s forces in Ukraine. He is General Sergey Surovikin, a man whose credentials in the Russian military stretch as far back as the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is most recently known, however, as the man who orchestrated Moscow’s brutal bombing of Aleppo, Syria.
Moscow put Surovikin in charge of the war in Ukraine around the same time a truck bomb exploded on the bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Ukraine. Putin condemned the Crimean bridge explosion as terrorism. Since then, the Kremlin has carried out a series of bombing campaigns against civilian infrastructure inside Ukraine.
According to Putin, Surovikin was deploying “high-precision, long-range weapons from the air, sea and land” for “massive attacks on targets of Ukraine’s energy, military command and communications facilities.” Missile strikes hit a playground in Kyiv, apartment buildings, and busy civilian streets.
To anyone familiar with Surovikin’s campaign in Syria, the indiscriminate attacks on civilians is familiar. Moscow supported Syrian dictator Basahr al-Assad in the country’s civil war and when Aleppo and other cities resisted, the Kremlin responded with cluster munitions and incendiary bombs. The bombing of Aleppo in 2016 killed more than 400 people and leveled much of the city, according to Human Right’s Watch. Cluster munitions exploded near hospitals, apartment buildings crumbled, and children died. The indiscriminate killing of civilians and leveling of cities has been the Russian military’s playbook since Putin came to power. When progress stalled in Chechnya during the Second Chechen War, the Russian military bombed the cities and occupied the rubble.
According to a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on October 11, Russia has increased its missile strikes against Ukraine in the past few days. “Starting from yesterday, the enemy used more than a hundred cruise missiles and dozens of different drones, including Iranian ‘Shaheds,” he said. “And every 10 minutes I receive a message about the enemy's use of Iranian ‘Shaheds.’”
According to Zelenskyy, he has gotten reports of 28 missile launches that morning following a day of 84 missile attacks across the country. Many of those missiles were aimed at Kyiv, which hasn’t been attacked directly since June. Supersonic bombers designed to deliver nuclear warheads fired non-nuclear cruise missiles into the city. In the Black Sea, Russian warships fired naval cruise missiles into the air and onto Ukrainian cities. According to the Ukrainian military, they were able to intercept 43 of these attacks.
Those that slipped through were filmed by civilians and posted by social media.
Missiles are expensive and Russia has increasingly limited resources. According to Zelenskky, citing Ukrainian intelligence, Moscow has ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 kamikaze drones from Iran. If this is true, it presents a cheap alternative to the use of missiles. The Saheed-136 is rumored to cost around $20,000. A cruise missile is around $500,000. The Saheed-136 is also significantly weaker than a cruise missile, but when fired en-masse at a target still represents a terrifying threat.
In his speech, Zelenskyy called for further sanctions against Russia, called Putin a terrorist, and said that there would be no peace as long as he remained in power. “Now one person is blocking peace—and this person is in Moscow,” he said.