Russia’s failures could lead to more indiscriminate attacks against Ukrainians, former Navy intel officer says


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Russia could launch more indiscriminate attacks against Ukrainians because of its failure to quickly seize the capital, a retired Navy captain and former intelligence officer told Fox News.

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“Because they haven’t been as successful as they expected, I think we might unfortunately see the Russian forces behave a little more indiscriminately,” said Steven Horrell, who’s now a nonresident senior fellow with the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis. “This will start to turn into even more of a humanitarian crisis.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. (Photo by Alexei NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. (Photo by Alexei NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
((Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images))

Monday marked the fifth day since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Western intelligence estimated Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, could have fallen into Russian control within a matter of days. But the Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have resisted Russian advances and maintained control of much of the country, including Kyiv.

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“There is more of an expectation of weakness on the part of Zelenskyy and other leaders,” Horrell said. The Russians “might have believed some of their own press releases about a lack of a Ukrainian national identity.”

“Those have all proven false,” he continued. “The Ukrainian people have rallied, and Zelenskyy has shown great leadership.”

A view shows a burning oil depot reportedly hit by shelling near the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Maksim Levin

A view shows a burning oil depot reportedly hit by shelling near the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Maksim Levin
(REUTERS/Maksim Levin)

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But Russia still holds the upper hand, according to Horrell.

“There still is a capability advantage to the Russians,” he said. “I think the overall objective is to … take the capital, decapitate Ukraine and install a friendly government rather than to get bogged down and try and occupy territory for years and years.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s nuclear forces on heightened alert over the weekend. 

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Horrell told Fox News that Putin’s “nuclear machismo” is a dangerous path for him to take, but that the “world condemnation” of the announcement was the appropriate response. 

Putin has also expressed aspirations to bring other former Soviet states into the Russian sphere of influence, including Georgia. Horrell told Fox News that Putin may think twice about engaging in any operations to overtake other sovereign states given the challenge his forces have faced in Ukraine. 

Steven Horrell, Center for European Policy Analysis Nonresident Senior Fellow

Steven Horrell, Center for European Policy Analysis Nonresident Senior Fellow
(Fox News Digital)

“Certainly any strategic operational level calculus has to be changing with the lack of success in the first five days,” Horrell said. 



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