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“Cruise Missile Crisis: Russia Resumes Action in Ukraine After Years of Inactivity

Last week, Russia launched a cruise missile barrage on Ukraine in what appears to be the largest airstrike since the two countries began their conflict in 2014. According to reports, the attack was conducted by three Tu-22M3 bombers, two Su-25 fighter aircraft and six surface-to-surface cruise missiles, three of which were fired from a strategic Tu-22M3. The missiles targeted the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and the city of Odessa. The attack signals a worrying escalation in tensions between the two countries, following a long pause of hostilities since the outbreak of the conflict. The developments have also raised concerns among Ukraine’s Western allies, as they seek to show solidarity with Kyiv in the face of Russian aggression. Russia has disputed Ukraine’s claim that they were responsible for the attack, suggesting that it was “provocative and hostile” conduct by Ukraine itself. Further representations from Russian authorities regarding the incident have been vague and unconvincing. The attack itself appears to have been unprovoked, and the timing is highly significant given recent attempts at international negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. During the talks, Ukrainian representatives sought to resolve the mess and the deadlock between the two nations, and yet the attack signals a deep-seated distrust of such negotiations. It is clear that the armed forces of Ukraine still have a great deal of work to do to defend their country from Russian aggression. A strong response from the international community, especially Western allies, will be essential to ensure that the current situation does not further escalate. Furthermore, Ukraine’s political and security landscape must be more robust than ever before to ensure that the current instability and unpredictability between Ukraine and Russia does not become more of an issue than it already is. The attack shows a worrying disregard for current negotiations and calls for a number of diplomatic and security steps to ensure that tensions remain at bay. The current conflict between Ukraine and Russia is one of the most concerning and chaotic regional conflagrations in recent memory. Both countries are currently at a tipping point, and a strong and unified response from the international community is the only way to help keep a fragile peace in place.