Ukraine has ramped up missile strikes on Russian-occupied Crimea in recent weeks in an effort to disrupt Russian logistics and resupply efforts as fighting rages in southern Ukraine – but it’s a strategy that some US officials in Washington are viewing with skepticism.
For some military and Biden administration officials, Ukrainian attacks on Crimea are at best a distraction, and at worst, a valuable waste of resources in a strategy that many analysts now believe has left Ukraine stretched too thin between multiple axes of attack.
“It’s knocked the Russians off balance a bit, but it is not doing anything decisive,” a senior defense official told CNN. “And it would probably be better for everyone for them to just focus on the counteroffensive.”
Ukraine has in recent weeks used long-range missiles to strike two bridges linking Crimea to Russian-occupied territory in southern Ukraine, and on Saturday, targeted the only bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Russia. With roughly a third of the peninsula now within the range of the US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), according to one senior Western intelligence official, Ukraine has also stepped up strikes on Russian ammunition dumps and other logistics and resupply infrastructure there.
“There’s more and more pressure on Crimea, and especially so in recent weeks,” that official told CNN. “I mean, they get pounded.”
Crimea holds a deep symbolic importance to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered his forces to invade and illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014. And it is also a strategically vital logistics hub for Russia’s war effort; its location on the Black Sea has made it sought-after territory for centuries.
For Ukraine, the attacks are an integral part of their counteroffensive strategy, intended to try to isolate Crimea and make it more difficult for Russia to sustain its military operations on the Ukrainian mainland, a Ukrainian source familiar with the strategy told CNN.
Read more about Ukraine's recent focus on Crimea.