In the last month, no attacks have been initiated on Ukraine by Russian strategic bombers, specifically the Tu-95 “Bear”, Tu-22 “Backfire”, and Tu-160 “Blackjack”. This marks a stark contrast to the previous year when Russian forces launched over 1,200 missiles and “kamikaze” drones on Ukrainian power plants, impacting nearly 50% of the country's energy capacity.
This pause in activity might be driven by several factors:
- Russian high command not seeing the necessity for current operations
- Challenges in maintaining bombers' operational readiness
- The possibility of preserving stocks of Kh55/101 cruise missiles for the anticipated winter campaign
Indeed, UK military intelligence suggests that Russia is likely preserving its cruise missile stocks for the winter campaign. It is also suggested that Russia will potentially use all the munitions from its newly produced long-range heavy bombers to attack Ukrainian energy infrastructures.
Amid these developments, Ukraine's military situation remains precarious. Factors such as the lack of territorial gains, a critical situation at Avdiivka, heavy losses, uncertain foreign military aid, and inadequate recruitment may contribute to potential hardships.
Despite these challenges, the Ukrainian armed forces have managed to acquire long-range strike capabilities with SCALP/Storm Shadow missiles from France and Britain and ATACMS from the United States.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed worries about Russia's potential move against his country's energy infrastructure. Preparations for a large-scale campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure are reportedly underway in Russia.
These preparations are potentially being fueled by agreements with Tehran to acquire and produce Geran-2/Shahed 136 and Shahed 131 remote-operated munitions. Additionally, Russia has allegedly received around a thousand containers of munitions from Pyongyang.