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Russia's Scorched-Earth Tactics in Syria Won't Prove as Successful in Ukraine

MIN READNov 7, 2022 | 22:25 GMT

A picture taken on Oct. 28, 2022, shows the Russian-controlled port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.

A picture taken on Oct. 28, 2022, shows the Russian-controlled port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.

(STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

In Ukraine, Russia will continue to utilize military tactics learned in Syria, like depopulation and even potentially the use of banned weapons. But without a break in Western support for Kyiv, these tactics will not make a strategic difference in the war, incentivizing Russia's military to increase its pace of attacks on civilian infrastructure and Ukrainian civilians. On Oct. 8, Russia appointed a new military commander for its Ukrainian war -- General Sergei Surovikin, whose most recent military experience was in the Syrian civil war in a series of rotations from 2017-2020. Surovikin's appointment led to widespread speculation that in the face of a depleted Russian ground force and successful Ukrainian counterattacks, he would more heavily shift Russia's military tactics to those utilized in its Syrian campaign, like widespread attacks on civilians to displace the population and the potential use of banned weapons like chemical attacks. Indeed, throughout October, Russia...

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