Ukrainian forces incessantly countered the Russian invasion of their country, since the atrocity began in February 2022, using Soviet-era armoured vehicles, aircraft, tanks, artillery and so on, along with some specific cutting-edge weapons and relevant technologies given by the West, such as Javelin anti-tank missiles, Leopard 2 tanks, M142 multiple rocket launcher, or HIMARS and many more. However, the war was already looking dreadful for the Russian military when packages of aid from Ukraine’s peers started arriving and helped change the course of the conflict. By that time, Western artillery and vehicles arrived, followed by artillery ammunition and after that in June 2022, HIMARS was also supplied to Ukraine. In this regard, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System provided by the West are observed well-competent to whack a target at a range of approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles). Thenceforth, Russian supply depots and command centers were attacked shortly well beyond the front lines.
Moreover, in the first few weeks of 2023, Western nations made promises to supply large quantities of heavy armour, including cutting-edge tanks and rocket-launched glide bombs known as ‘Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs’ (GLSDB), capable of striking targets at ranges of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles). However, in this respect, the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, exhibited his wholehearted support for January’s $2.5 billion aid package by saying that it will “support Ukraine as it valiantly defends its people, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity.” In a similar vein, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Our backing is making a real difference for the Ukrainians.” He also mentioned that this aid is not with a view to only ensuring their survival, but also to repelling the Russian invasion and reclaiming their land.
The Western armaments and equipment, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, have been crucial to the country’s aptitude to fend off the Russian invasion. In January, he remarked that “Russia wants the war to drag on and exhaust our forces.” He also indicated that in this regard, time appears as a tool for becoming stronger with more modernized weapons from the West. Therefore, for Zelensky, things need to move faster, supplies need to arrive sooner, and Ukraine needs access to more kinds of weapons. Thus, the continuous military support from the West is gradually shifting the mindsets of the leaders and geostrategic courses of the war. Intriguingly, this seems to be demonstrating a more protracted war which would bring about unexpected changes furthermore. Nevertheless, the question arises as, through such supplying of diverse armours and military vehicles from the Western allies–is the course advocating for stopping the war, or rather fueling the war which is slowly but surely bringing the world politico-economic milieu to a new brink of grip by changing the directions of the war?
Ukraine War: A Theatre for Testing the Western Weapons?
In a series of rebounds that resulted in significant territorial regains, the Ukrainians hammered Russian soldiers using artillery and rockets manufactured in the United States. The Ukrainians field-improved a targeting system to direct part of their weaponry. In this regard, this war has provided the United States military with invaluable information and room about gauging the effectiveness of its armour competency and technological intelligentsia. The US and allied military personnel has got the chance to observe the cogency of their weaponry in combat and the tactics employed by their adversaries in this modern warfare by observing the technique of fighting in the Russia-Ukraine war. Likewise, Military officials in the United States have monitored Russia’s employment of Iran-supplied, disposable drones that explode on hit to destroy the Ukrainian electrical grid.
However, a US military operations officer with battlefield knowledge and a recent British think tank study both agree that some high-profile systems given to the Ukrainians have proven to be less efficient than expected on the battleground. These systems include the Switchblade 300 drone and a missile made with the design to target the radar devices of the opponent. By contrast, the compact and lightweight ‘M142 multiple rocket launcher, or HIMARS,’ developed in the United States has proven crucial in ensuring Ukraine’s success on diverse grounds. Moreover, the M777 howitzer, an extremely potent piece of artillery, has been a vital part of Ukraine’s military might. In this respect, a defence source warned that firing too many shells too quickly might cause the howitzers’ barrels to forfeit their rifling, reducing the howitzers’ accuracy and effectiveness. However, officials have found significant insights about the rate at which these systems need periodic repair due to their extensive use through the experiences of this war.
Is Ukraine More Powerful Than Ever with the Western Weapons and Technologies?
Since the war commenced early in 2022, about two dozen trucks equipped to launch ‘GPS-guided Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS)’ missiles have been aided to Ukraine by the United States and Western partners. U.S.-designated M142 (HIMARS) wheeled vehicles and M270 tracked vehicles that can move and fire all of their missiles in just a few minutes after landing at a firing site, significantly outpacing conventional artillery have also been provided by the Western allies. In the summer of 2022, Western self-propelled artillery, which consists of mobile guns, using NATO standard 155mm shells, installed on tracked or wheeled platforms, began arriving in Ukraine. In a nutshell, wheeled artillery (M777 and M119), armoured vehicles (Marder, Bulldog, Bradley, M113, and Stryker vehicles), tanks (Challenger 2, T-72 and Leopard 2), air defence (NASAMS, IRIS-T and Gepard anti-aircraft cannons), anti-ship missiles (Harpoon) and many more ammunitions have arrived in Ukraine till now that enhanced the warfare capacity of the country.
In these war technologies, mobile, self-sufficient, and equipped with computerized aiming–these systems share some key characteristics despite their wide variety. However, it has been captivating to discern Ukraine deploying its meagre HIMARS missile stockpile to create devastation in the Russian area by hitting command stations, supply depots and, headquarters. Besides, tablets and smartphones are now standard aspects in the Ukrainian military thanks to a piece of software developed in Ukraine that transforms them into powerful targeting instruments. The outcome is a mobile app that allows front-line forces to more precisely direct their fire more by feeding intelligence imagery from satellites and other sources into a real-time targeted algorithm. And because it’s software rather than hardware, it can be updated and improved rapidly and made available to more people. Consequently, it is by time discerned that on many grounds, the Ukrainians have been experiencing tactical improvements more than the Russian military.
We Are Heading Towards a More Protracted Crisis: Negotiations Must Be Upheld
The Russia-Ukraine war has plunged the entire globe into profound anxiety due to the acute effect of weakening resilience in the global political and economic atmosphere. Countries all over the world, especially developing ones, have been experiencing severe and unprecedented repercussions to an unfathomable extent since the war began on February 24, 2022. These include political instability, food and energy crises, disruptions in economic supply chains, rapid inflation growth, and so on. The unwavering stances taken by both Russia and Ukraine over the past few months have given the impression that the war will drag on for many more days and weeks. In light of the exorbitant toll exacted by Russia’s incursion on Ukraine in terms of human lives, economic devastation, and political upheaval, coupled with the fact that even proponents of arming Ukraine concede that the outcome of the conflict remains uncertain.
Considering the dynamics, it is incumbent upon the United States to be cautious about its military aid with tangible measures that should be aimed at establishing the groundwork for a peaceful solution to the war. With Western aid pouring in and Ukraine making significant strides on the battlefield but this seems to be not much opportune for negotiations. Although Ukraine now finds itself in a favourable position to engage in talks and potentially secure a positive outcome after the huge arms supply and continuous defence, the channels of negotiations are still stymied by the continuous attack and counterattack from both parties. In this respect, China’s envoy Li Hui argued that ‘stopping the flow of weapons to the battleground is an essential step towards ending the war, saving lives, and establishing lasting peace’. The more the war is protracted, the more the world is in a long-term crisis. From diverse perspectives, despite the importance of weapons supply, the Western leaders must move towards negotiations, rather than fueling the war by dreaming of a ‘total victory.’ Not supplying weapons but negotiations are the only path that can save the world from further upshots of this war.
[Photo by Mil.gov.ua, via Wikimedia Commons]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a Research Intern at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs.