As fierce fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops continues in the eastern region of Donetsk, with Moscow failing to make significant advances for weeks, former governor of Luhansk Oblast George Tuka said it’s time Kyiv launches preventive airstrikes directly onto Russian territory.
In an interview with Ukrainian news site Obozrevatel, Tuka said Kyiv will not fight to the last Ukrainian, but “to the last Russian,” saying Ukraine should not limit itself to hit enemy targets within its territory but strike on Russian territory too.
“I would very much like our American partners to stop tying us hand and foot with the demand not to shell the territory of Russia,” he told Obozrevatel.
“In my opinion, the task of preventive strikes on military facilities located on the territory of both Russia and Belarus is a matter of the security of our country, and not just some political scaremongering. For a long time, both Russia and Belarus deserve to receive certain actions in return.”
Asked about the diplomatic risks of shelling Russian targets using weapons provided by NATO countries, Tuka said the difference between weapons provided by Western powers and Ukrainian weapons is “just a political gimmick.”
“From the moment when any and whose weapons cross the state border of Ukraine, they become Ukrainian. From whom we bought it, how we got it—it does not matter at all. This is political manipulation and nothing more,” he said.
Since the beginning of the conflict on February 24, NATO has condemned “in the strongest possible terms Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine,” but has avoided open conflict with Moscow, eager to avoid an expansion of the battleground into NATO’s territory.
Tuka, who was deputy minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons in then-prime minister Volodymyr Groysman’s government between 2016 and 2019, said more than HIMARS are needed to achieve “a real breakthrough” against Russian troops.
He called for “the provision of automotive equipment, armored vehicles, means of communication, and modern night vision devices” as well as “long-range missiles” to “open up new opportunities” for Ukrainian troops.
Meanwhile in Ukraine, Russian forces have been said to have resumed localized ground attacks northwest and southwest of Izyum, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), who said Moscow troops might also be preparing for offensive operations further west into Kharkiv Oblast or toward Kharkiv City.
Russian troops currently occupy around 60 percent of the Donetsk, and Moscow is expected to continue its attacks in the region to eventually annex the entire territory if victorious.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged civilians to evacuate eastern Donetsk and flee the battleground, saying that “the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”
A mandatory evacuation notice was posted on Saturday evening, asking families especially to get the tens of thousands of children out of the region before the winter.
“They need to be evacuated, you cannot put them in mortal danger in the winter without heating, light, without the ability to keep them warm,” Kyiv’s Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories said in a statement.