How important are Ukraine’s trains to its war effort?

5/21/2022 5:30:00 AM

The rail network matters strategically—and symbolically

The rail network matters strategically—and symbolically

The rail network matters strategically—and symbolically

, possibly in the hope that its troops might find the tracks useful. But more recently it has launched salvos of rockets against the network. The latest came on May 17th, when Russia fired missiles at rail infrastructure near Lviv, a city in western Ukraine. The attack followed similar strikes in early May and late April, as well as the shelling of a crowded railway station in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, on April 8th that killed at least 52 people. The strikes underscore the strategic significance of Ukraine’s railway network. Why is it so important?

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But more recently it has launched salvos of rockets against the network. The latest came on May 17th, when Russia fired missiles at rail infrastructure near Lviv, a city in western Ukraine. Before the war, Ukraine was one of the biggest contributors to the UN World Food Programme, supplying enough grain to feed 400 million people. The attack followed similar strikes in early May and late April, as well as the shelling of a crowded railway station in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, on April 8th that killed at least 52 people.com. The strikes underscore the strategic significance of Ukraine’s railway network. But the war has put all of this at risk. Why is it so important? Some 22,000km of tracks criss-cross Ukraine’s vast flatlands (see map). He said: “The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia , and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq” He quickly corrected himself to say “I mean Ukraine” but it seems certain to launch a thosuands memes – or more.

After the invasion on February 24th Ukraine quickly recognised their potential value to its adversary. Facing tough sanctions from Western countries, Russia may also need its food for its own people. Last month the crew's efforts went beyond saving house pets after discovering wild captive animals that had been left behind in their cages in the tourist resort in Chernivtsi, which had been bombed. Two days into the war its army blew up all rail links leading into Ukraine from Russia. Russia’s slow-moving army has often relied on rail to carry, and supply, its lumbering convoys inside the country’s vast land mass. Image: This wheat warehouse is in the west of Ukraine - far from the heart of wheat country in the south. It also has its own 29,000-strong rail-auxiliary service, which provides logistical support to other units. Russia’s dependence on rail at home may explain its hesitation to attack Ukraine’s infrastructure. Pic: AP Even before the war, food supply was bad for many countries Developing countries are worst-affected - many were already seeing record-high food prices before the war due to problems such as drought and internal conflict. However, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelenskiy later said the alleged attack near the occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol had been confined to rails near the train.

“The initial phase of war was about capturing and holding Ukrainian territory,” says Emily Ferris of the Royal United Services Institute, a think-tank in London. “And if you want to govern a country, you want it intact. And even for those countries who don't rely on importing wheat from Russia or Ukraine, the shortages will continue to push prices up.” But as the invasion has dragged on the railways have instead bolstered Ukraine’s resilience. Its army often operates through nimble ambush groups that do not require rail transport ." He said he is in"intense contacts" with Russia and other key countries in the hope of an agreement to allow the export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports and to give Russian food and fertiliser unrestricted access to world markets. But the influx of Western arms and supplies on which Ukraine increasingly relies are often shifted across the country by rail.57 BST 05.

Trains have also allowed civilians to escape Russian advances, and casualties to be evacuated in hospital wagons. "This is not just about Ukraine - this is about the poorest of the poor around the world who are on the brink of starvation as we speak. Ukraine is also trying to use rail to circumvent the Russian naval blockade of its Black Sea ports. Wagons of grain are placed on trains heading west, destined for ports in Poland, Romania and the Baltic states.. But transport by rail is costlier than by sea, and capacity is limited. And because Ukraine uses a different gauge of track to its neighbours, at the border the shipments must be loaded into new wagons, or the wagons themselves lifted on to new rail undercarriages. so that we can feed the poorest of the poor and avert famine, as we've done in the past, when nations in this room have stepped up together. United States treasury secretary Janet Yellen said ahead of the meeting in Koenigswinter that what had been agreed so far was “not enough” and called on US partners to “join us in increasing their financial support”.

This leads to delays typically lasting 16 days, according to Adina Valean, the EU’s transport commissioner. Russia’s defence ministry has warned that the Western weapons trundling into Ukraine by rail make legitimate targets. That does not apply to the trains that have brought in delegations of Western leaders, such as Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of America’s House of Representatives, on May 1st. But Russia finds other ways to make known its displeasure at these diplomatic convoys. Ms Ferris thinks that it may time air strikes on Ukrainian railway stations near the border with Poland to spook visiting politicians and discredit their hosts.

On April 25th, within hours of a visit by America’s secretary of state and defence secretary, an attack on five rail-infrastructure targets in central and western areas of Ukraine cut power to several lines. And yet such attacks have not dissuaded Ukraine’s regular rail passengers, of whom 200,000 travel daily. Much to the pride of their Ukrainian operators, most trains rattle on with only minor delays. Read more of our recent coverage of the .