Russian President Vladimir Putin could escalate the ongoing war and bomb Ukrainian civilian infrastructure in response to Kyiv’s recent successes in its counteroffensive operations, a U.S. lawmaker said Tuesday.
Speaking to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said the risk of Putin carpet bombing Ukrainian civilians increases “the more he is backed into a corner” because of Kyiv’s successes in the counteroffensive operations in the southern and northeastern parts of the country.
“The paradox of the situation we’re in right now is the better the Ukrainians do, the more dangerous Putin becomes — the more he’s backed into a corner,” King said.
The Maine senator also said the risk is increasing as Moscow’s inner circle is putting pressure on Putin to take more action in the conflict.
“His pattern in Aleppo, Syria, Grozny [and] Chechnya is bomb the crap out of them. Civilians, carpet bomb,” King added. “I think the most likely next step is for Putin to step up attacks on civilian infrastructure.”
King’s interview comes as Ukraine’s army continues to retake its territory from the Russian forces. As of Sept. 15, Kyiv’s forces had liberated 388 settlements and over 3,200 square miles of territory in Kharkiv Oblast.
Some settlements in the Donetsk region were also liberated by soldiers for Ukraine’s 81st separate airborne assault brigade, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a daily address. It is unclear which settlements were recaptured from the Russian troops.
The Ukrainian army’s counteroffensive operations have forced Russian soldiers to retreat from several positions, leaving behind their ammunition and war equipment, including T-72 tanks. The Ukrainian soldiers are now using the abandoned Russian tanks to shore up their counteroffensive as they try to push into the occupied Luhansk region, the Institute for the Study of War said in a press release, citing a Russian source.
“The initial panic of the counteroffensive led Russian troops to abandon higher-quality equipment in working order, rather than the more damaged equipment left behind by Russian forces retreating from Kyiv in April, further indicating the severity of the Russian rout,” the press release read.
The Institute for the Study of War also noted that Moscow’s military is “attempting to mobilize addition forces” but has failed to “generate significant combat power.”