“It cannot seize the initiative, because there are not enough resources,” he said of the Russian military. “Crimea is the only way to support the grouping of troops in the Kherson and Zaporizka regions. Otherwise, this grouping of troops does not exist.”
Now the question is how Russia responds to the attacks. In April, Russia’s Defense Ministry warned that it would retaliate against future Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory by targeting “decision-making centers” in the capital, Kyiv.
In July, Dmitri A. Medvedev, the vice chairman of Mr. Putin’s security council and former president, said that in the event of an attack from Ukraine against Crimea, “Judgment Day will come for all of them over there at the same time.”
After Tuesday’s blasts, some pro-Kremlin commentators were calling on the military to make good on those threats. Andrei Klishas, a senior lawmaker from Mr. Putin’s United Russia party, said in a social media post that “Russia’s retaliatory strikes must be very convincing.”
“This is about protecting our sovereignty,” he wrote.
But Mr. Putin, who addressed a security conference in Moscow by video link on Tuesday a few hours after the early-morning blasts in Crimea, made no mention of the attack. He said Russia was prepared for a lengthy war, even if many more Ukrainians would die, repeating his frequent argument that a Western-allied Ukraine was an existential threat to Russia. The West, he claimed in his speech, was using Ukrainians as “cannon fodder” in its conflict with Russia.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the United States is trying to draw out this conflict,” he said.