Resistance leader in Kyiv predicts Russian bombardment

Enough military supplies could see the capital hold off siege

Firefighters work to put out a fire in a residential apartment building after it was hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine. Reuters

Kyiv is facing a Russian military offensive using heavy artillery to bombard the city, the head of the civil resistance effort has reported.

Speaking to the Chatham House think tank Andriy Levus said the Ukraine capital is therefore relying on a sufficient supply of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to withstand the siege.

The country also needed short-range VHF radios and body armour for the Ukrainian resistance fighters to mount counter attacks into occupied areas.

Three weeks into the invasion Russian artillery positions were creeping closer to the city centre.

'The enemy is advancing slowly but steadily in spite of all our attempts to hold them back,' said Andriy Levus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“The enemy is advancing slowly but steadily in spite of all our attempts to hold them back,” said Mr Levus, the Kyiv municipality civil resistance leader. “The closer they approach to the city line the closer they get to our residential areas, the more vulnerable we are.

“They are using a heavy artillery shelling the city and the main issue is how long will we be able to keep a Russian artillery away from the city centre.”

He suggested Russians would not bomb the parliament buildings because Moscow wanted politicians to be in place to accept its terms of surrender.

“If a capital city falls, it means that the entire country falls,” he told a webinar, Attacking and Defending Kyiv. “It is our task not to let it happen,” he added.

But Mr Levus, 42, who in 2014 was deputy of the security service, vowed Ukraine would never make concessions to Russia after all the bloodshed it had caused.

A woman is evacuated from a burning apartment building in Kyiv after strikes on residential areas. AFP

“We were attacked, and what they do is beyond moral, it is an inhumane fight,” he said. “There is no point for negotiation. We can't be a neutral country as long as the Russian Federation exists within it current borders.”

Like it had done with other Ukraine cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Russians wanted to encircle Kyiv to cut off food, medicine and military supplies.

Mr Levus stated that Ukraine’s military had decided against stationing its artillery inside the city to return fire as that would jeopardise the local population.

But Russia had also deliberately positioned its guns and rocket launchers in the centre of towns and villages knowing the Ukrainians would not fire at their own people.

“They are provoking us, taking our people hostage,” he said, claiming Russians were “shooting people out of spite or for entertainment”.

Russian soldiers were shocked when they were “treated in a very civilised way ”and allowed to call relatives in Russia, provided with medical assistance and even given legal aid “when needed”.

Ukrainian soldiers inspect the rubble of a destroyed apartment building in Kyiv. AFP

The London think-tank’s Russia security expert, Mathieu Boulègue, argued that Moscow’s generals’ methodical approach to urban warfare was to “avoid having to fight hand-to-hand”.

The shelling was “indiscriminate bombardments” and amounted to a “terror campaign” because it lacked the precision of other armies.

The robust Ukrainian air defence systems, including its warplanes and surface-to-air missiles, could allow Kyiv to resist Russia, which was still unable to deploy its own air force without losses.

“But no air defence and no air support for Ukraine means that Russia will be able to advance quicker against Kyiv,” he added. “If Kyiv keeps its air defence and our support this will bring necessary assistance for the citizens of Ukraine fighting this war and surviving in a state of siege.”

Kyiv’s geography also did not “play in Russia's favour” with the river Dnieper inhibiting advance from the north or south. Furthermore, it had been “very smart and quick move from Ukraine” slowing down the Russian advance by using the river to flood fields.

In the three weeks since the invasion, the people had also destroyed bridges and built strongholds and barriers to hinder an attack. “This means that if there is genuine urban warfare this will be a terrible battle,” Mr Boulègue said.

There was considerable fear of Chechen mercenaries employed by Russia who specialised in “mopping up urban operations” and had “absolutely no regard for human life”.

Similarly, Russia could also be preparing the way to use chemical weapons by claiming Ukraine was going to use them.

Mr Levus, dressed in military fatigues, told the webinar Ukrainian villagers in occupied areas were still attacking tanks, setting them on fire with Molotov cocktails.

Urban warfare experts from the war in Donbas were training people in guerrilla tactics and in counter saboteur operations.

He added that Russia currently did not have enough troops to completely encircle the city but were getting close enough to use electronic warfare, including the jamming of phone signals.

Updated: March 15, 2022, 7:04 PM