Euronews speaks to Siemon Wezeman from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) about Russia's evolving military tactics in Ukraine.
As Russia's gradual offensive nears the end of its third week, fears are growing that its troops will widen their assault to more cities, including the capital Kyiv, piling further suffering on the local population.
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have already been killed or had to flee their homes because of constant Russian bombardment. Cities like Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv have been heavily pounded by rockets, artillery, and airstrikes.
Siemon Wezeman from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says this is a typical Russian tactic inherited from the Soviet army. When their troops cannot overwhelm a resisting enemy, they unleash heavy weaponry.
"It doesn't really matter if the enemy is in the city or not, because they have blasted it, the same way that they blasted Grozny, in Chechnya, that's also where they tried to get in first with small forces trying to take it from the Chechen rebels. That didn't work so they have decided, "ok, block, by block we gonna blast that city into pieces."
Wezeman says this method was used in Syria and had devastating consequences in Aleppo. The city was subjected to constant airstrikes and shelling.
In Ukraine, Russia recently announced the deployment of special Syrian units experienced in urban warfare.
For its part, the Ukrainian army has been trying to stop the encirclement of cities, including Kyiv, to prevent Russian troops from laying siege to entire urban centres.
Wezeman believes military strategists in Moscow expected a swift victory but now face mounting tank losses inflicted by agile Ukrainian tactics.
"On the other side the Ukrainians have been training on this kind of concepts with small units etcetera since 2014, also with the help of various Western militaries that have been training the Ukrainians since 2014, quite a lot of them in especially this: delegated authorities and small-scale operations."
NATO supplied and trained Ukraine’s army before the war. That appears to have played a major role in slowing the Russian offensive. The fear now is things could become more brutal as Russia attempts to gain further ground.