A series of Russian airstrikes throughout Ukraine reflects a possible effort to demoralize the beleaguered civilian population, according to officials and observers, as invading Russian forces continue to struggle against Ukrainian resistance.

“I think that these strikes had a ‘disturbing’ effect rather than real destruction,” Oleh Feschowetz, a Ukrainian publisher who lives in Lviv, said in a written message to the Washington Examiner. “Under the current conditions, Russians get one result: a certain fatigue of the population, combined with irritation, which at the same time compensates for this fatigue.”

This week’s strikes brought the violence to regions far removed from the brunt of the fighting, including Lviv, a major city in western Ukraine that has been targeted with intermittent strikes. U.S. officials assess that Russia is attempting to interdict Western shipments of heavy weaponry by targeting railroad lines and the Ukrainian electric grid.

"It's annoying,” one senior European official said of the strikes, but “the railway is actually quite quickly reparable.”


Ukrainian officials acknowledged that "a massive missile strike damaged 6 railway substations” Tuesday evening but claimed that neither the railway employees nor the passengers sustained any casualties.

“Recovery is fast and efficient, we are neither intimidated nor stopped,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said after the attack. “We foresaw similar scenarios of missile strikes in advance, in particular, plans for alternative logistics routes were developed. This minimizes damage to passenger traffic, businesses and Ukrainian defense forces.”

That barrage extended as far as Transcarpathia, a border region populated by ethnic Hungarian citizens of Ukraine that had not been struck previously. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has taken credit for the southwest Ukrainian region’s apparent immunity from Russian attacks while refusing to provide weaponry to Ukraine or even to allow other members of NATO to send aid through Hungarian territory or airspace.

“I would like to see someone asking Budapest how it feels now,” the senior European official said before allowing that Russian forces might have targeted the region by mistake. “It might easily be that [someone at a] lower level just forgot. ... There's not always everything going [the way] it should be in the Russian military.”

The strike in the Hungary-Ukraine border region likewise caused no casualties, according to local reports, and seemed unlikely to prompt a policy shift in Budapest. “The attack justifies our decision not to transport weapons for the war,” Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Tamas Menczer maintained.

The breaking of the peace in Transcarpathia tends to align with Ukrainian assessments that the strikes are designed to impose a psychological cost on Ukraine rather than impose direct military pressure.

“Another night in Ukraine, another barrage of Russian missiles raining down on peaceful Ukrainian cities,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Wednesday evening local time. “They want to break us down with their missile terrorism. But the only thing that will break down in the end is Russia and its capacity to invade, bomb, murder, loot, and rape.”

President Joe Biden and some Western European governments have decided in recent days to increase the supply of heavy weaponry to Kyiv in anticipation of a major clash in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces have concentrated their efforts since their failure to take the capital. Those approvals came later than Ukrainian and central European officials had hoped in the lead-up to an expected massive Russian onslaught, but Russian forces have failed to capitalize on the presumed opportunity.

“The Russians were not that good. They did not learn from what caused their defeat in the battle of Kyiv ... logistical operations, military arts mistakes,” Czech Deputy Defense Minister Tomas Kopecny told the Washington Examiner. “So even if there was some debate, even if it took some time, it was good enough for many governments deciding to send their [heavier] weapons to Ukraine."

Russia is “definitely nervous” about the arrival of those new weapons, as the senior European official put it, but even the intensified airstrikes still seem too modest to halt the influx of assistance, according to Feschowetz.


“From the point of view of purely military expediency, such strikes are an unjustified use of missiles,” said the publisher, who produces tactical military manuals and assists with the training of Ukrainian territorial defense forces. “I assume that these are rather imitation actions of the military leadership under the pressure of the political leadership. ... They count on the fatigue of the population and, accordingly, its pressure on the Ukrainian government.”