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Why Is Russia Attacking Ukraine’s Railways And Are They Failing?

Why Is Russia Attacking Ukraine’s Railways And Are They Failing?

Throughout the war in Ukraine, Russia has carried out consistent attacks on the country’s rail system.

Ukraine‘s state-owned railway, Ukrzaliznytsia, is the country’s largest employer with over 200,000 staff across 233,000 square miles.

During the war it has been a lifeline for millions of people who fled the country and has proved essential to Ukraine’s strategic objectives.

Russia has launched dozens of attacks on the rail infrastructure, hitting its tracks, bridges and electricity substations using a range of weapons like rockets and cruise missiles.

While many of these have only caused minor and reparable damage to the railway, the human cost is more stark with a missile attack on Kramatorsk’s train station killing dozens of civilians who were trying to flee.

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And it is not just people who are being transported.

The vast railway network has been used to supply key Western arms shipments which have helped Ukrainian forces defend territory from Russia’s initial offensive and have helped transport grain.

Image:
Map showing Ukrzaliznytsia’s railway routes across Ukraine

Damage so far only ‘disrupts and delays’

Ukrainian officials say Russia aims to destroy the country’s infrastructure – while the Russian defence ministry has admitted that its rail attacks are aimed at disrupting the flow of Western weapons.

Experts say that if Russia’s objective is to paralyse the supply of Western weapons, it has so far failed.

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Defence and intelligence experts say attacks on the railway have largely been seen as “disruptive”, but haven’t caused significant and lasting damage.

They point to two main reasons why its forces have failed to effectively damage the railway – the Ukrainian force’s ability to repair damage and difficulties hitting moving…

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