A building partially destroyed by Russian shelling in the Ukrainian town of Kupiansk


  • Mykhailo Podolyak said Russia's war strategy now involves targeting civilian areas and apartment buildings
  • Podolyak said Russia is also hoping to test Ukraine's air defenses capabilities
  • More than 8,700 Ukrainian civilians have now been killed in the war in Ukraine, says a report

A top Ukrainian official has warned that Russia's new war strategy involves targeting civilian areas in missile strikes in an attempt to push Ukraine to launch its anticipated spring counteroffensive sooner.

In addition to hastening Ukraine's counteroffensive, Russia is also hoping its change of targets will influence the West to push both countries to consider peace negotiations, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Monday.

"It is absolutely obvious that there is a certain change in tactics. There is no doubt about this, because they are striking directly at civilian, multi-apartment buildings or places where there is a lot of civilian housing," he was quoted as saying by RBC-Ukraine and translated via Google Translate.

Podolyak also said Russia has a third goal in its new war strategy, and that is to gain more information about the capabilities of Ukraine's air defense systems and whether it is possible to attack civilian populations should they fail on the frontline.

"The third reason is that they want to understand whether it is possible to attack not only along the trajectories they attacked in the winter and autumn, whether it is possible to attack the civilian population bypassing our air defense systems. And they are looking at whether we have completely closed the sky or not," he added.

Apart from shellings, Russia has also begun to impose strict measures in occupied territories. Particularly, civilians living in temporarily occupied territories are now restricted from traveling between towns and villages, per the New York Times. The new measure is said to have come amid concerns about a potential strike carried out by Ukrainian partisans and special forces.

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Since then, it has shelled a number of civilian infrastructures, including housings, children's hospitals and maternity wards.

Perhaps one of the deadliest missile strikes launched by the Russian army was the bombing of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol in March last year. The attack left up to 600 civilians dead. The attack was led by Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizinstev who the Kremlin fired in late April.

In total, the war has so far led to the deaths of 8,709 civilians, including 515 children. At least 7,219 deaths were caused by Russian shellings, according to a May 2 report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

An adviser to the president of Ukraine, Mykhailo Podolyak, speaks to AFP in Kyiv