The Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, has ordered all Russian military forces deployed to Ukraine to expand their operations in order to challenge Ukrainian forces launching strikes into the occupied eastern region and other territories that Russia has seized. Defense Minister Shoigu issues these instructions in part to reduce the ability of Ukraine forces from launching artillery and rocket strikes against the general population, settlements, and civilian infrastructure in the occupied regions.
The orders come following the delivery of eight advanced HIMARS long-range artillery systems from the United States that have allowed Ukrainian forces to strike Russian targets from as far away as 50 miles. This range advantage has allowed Ukrainian forces to strike against ammunition dumps, supply lines, and even logistic centers that had previously been insulated deep behind Russian lines. Ukraine has reported that it appears Russian forces have been struggling to find secure locations to store munitions, as well as have suffered from a lack of adequate transport to move them. Given the success of these systems in inflicting damage on Russia's ability to coordinate resupply of its forces, the United States has promised to provide Ukraine with an additional four HIMARS, and the United Kingdom has further promised to provide long-range missile systems of its own to the Ukrainian forces.
Despite this order by Defense Minister Shoigu, Russian troops might not prove up to the challenge. Russia has already previously indicated that it is suffering from a lack of military equipment and ability to resupply its forces. Moreover, the conduct of long-distance strikes against civilian targets like the Kremenchuk Shopping Center instead of directing attacks solely against Ukrainian military assets seems to indicate a desire to force the civilian population to concede the war rather than to defeat Ukraine on the battlefield. With the war dragging on, and Russia growing increasingly concerned about internal dissent, this latest order by Defense Minister Shoigu might indicate Russia's desperation for any positive development in the conflict.