What’s the Way Forward for the West in Ukraine?

The result of Moscow’s horrific war in Ukraine will be determined not only by weaponry, tactics, and fighting spirit, but also by the passage of time.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, believes that by fighting a long, sluggish war of attrition in Ukraine, he may erode support for Kyiv in the United States and Europe. Politicians in Washington and other Western capitals are finally taking measures to reduce Moscow’s ‘tyrant’s’ geopolitical clout. All we can do now is pray that it is not too late.

The top developed nations convened in Hiroshima, Japan, over the weekend for the G-7 Summit. President Biden and some of his associates indicated in the days running up to the conference that they would provide Ukraine with a slew of new weaponry. At least as vital as obtaining the weaponry was convincing Mr. Putin that time is not on his side.

Three recent Western measures to assist Ukraine’s military have been particularly significant. It was a significant shift when President Biden altered his position and stated Ukrainian pilots might train to operate F-16 fighter jets and other nations may prepare to deploy them to Ukraine. The second is the $3 billion in weaponry that Germany has said it would deliver. Thirty Leopard battle tanks, 20 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 self-propelled howitzers, 4 Iris-T air-defense missile systems, 200 observation drones, and artillery munition are among the items included. The third point was that Britain opted to supply cruise missiles to Ukraine.

The most significant aspect of them is that they are long-term initiatives. The F-16s would not be operational in Ukraine until at least the end of the year. They would need not just extensive training, but also extensive logistical and maintenance work to keep them ready for battle. Germany’s arms supply is unlikely to arrive for many months.

Before the news broke, Britain had been debating whether or not to unleash Storm Shadow cruise missiles. They can attack Russian command centers and other targets with a range of at least 155 miles. This is three times further than the HIMARS produced in the United States, which assisted Ukraine in fighting to reclaim territory captured by Moscow early in the war.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian authorities have been pleading with the US for months to provide them with ATACMS-style missiles with a range of roughly 200 miles. These missiles are manufactured in the United States. The White House and the Pentagon have been reticent to approve the weapon because they are concerned that Ukraine may use it to fire on Moscow’s soldiers in Russian-occupied Crimea.

The weapons, which were manufactured in the United Kingdom, are claimed to have already been deployed. Even if the Storm Shadows are valuable, we shouldn’t place too much faith in them. Nobody knows how many more will be available this year during and after Ukraine’s counteroffensive. However, just a handful have been despatched from Britain’s limited supplies thus far. The objective should be in the hundreds to adequately safeguard Kyiv.

If these pledges had been made sooner, Ukraine may have been better prepared for the anticipated launch of its counteroffensive. However, they demonstrate that Western leaders really mean it when they say they would assist Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” Mr. Putin, please pay heed.

With no end in sight to the fighting in Ukraine, authorities in Washington and Europe are already discussing ways to fortify Kyiv’s defenses over the next decade in response to what they view as Russia’s continuing audacious aspirations. Mr. Putin has stated his willingness to call up hundreds of thousands of troops, and he has already placed Russia’s military industry on a combat production foundation. He considers Ukraine’s tyranny and loss of identity to be more than a research subject; it is his inheritance. Nobody believes Mr. Putin would abandon this ambition, even if there is a small break or an agreed-upon halt at some time in the future. Putin, of course, wants Donald Trump to be re-elected since he has promised to finish the war in Ukraine tomorrow, maybe by cutting off US military supplies.

That implies it is up to the West to devise strategies for a long-term war. This should be reflected in the quantity of weapons purchased, the manner in which they are purchased, and the amount of money spent on the military. The West must provide additional cruise missiles, ammunition, air defense systems, tanks, and armored vehicles to Ukraine’s military. Ukrainians are fighting for something that a tyrant seeking to grab power may not recognize: the right to join the family of democratic, varied, and tolerant nations.

[Photo by Cabinet Public Affairs Office, Cabinet Secretariat, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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