Soon after Russia started its full-scale assault on February 24, the war in Ukraine started to move in favor of the defense. Ukraine swiftly reclaimed land that Russia had taken in the early stages of the war in the summer and fall of last year. However, the front line’s recent relative stability has sparked new rumors that Russia would soon resume its onslaught. A year ago, many experts were mesmerized by what they perceived to be Russia’s enormous strength, cutting-edge weapons, and skillful planning and leadership. Despite the fact that the Ukrainians almost immediately proved to be far more formidable than virtually anybody had anticipated, periods of peace in the conflict raise hopes that Russia will soon begin building up its supposedly vast reserves and regain the initiative on the battlefield.
It is assumed at the outset that Ukraine had little chance of ultimately defeating a fully organized Russia. According to this argument, Russia’s purported advantages will be increasingly significant the longer the conflict lasts and the more rounds of compulsory conscription Vladimir Putin and his military inflict on the Russian population.
In truth, it’s likely that the organizational, planning, and logistical mistakes that halted Russia’s progress and allowed Ukraine to retake territory will continue to happen. Ukraine is in a strong position to win the conflict as long as its NATO allies continue to increase their support.
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The deployment of numerous soldiers is a key component of Russia’s plan. However, the size of an army alone is no longer, and has not been for some time, a deciding factor in modern warfare. The new troops in Russia are poor raw material for an army since they have so far rejected all efforts to encourage them to volunteer and lack the drive to leave their nation in order to avoid being drafted. Soldiers need to be properly trained, which usually takes a year or more and requires a minimum of six months, in order to significantly harm an enemy force. Before going into battle, Russia’s new army won’t have time to perform exercises together.
Importantly, brand-new equipment must be provided to each and every one of these new trainees. Quality can make a difference. Competing armies improved their weaponry frequently during World War II. But instead of improving its machinery and increasing production, Russia is unable to undo even a small portion of the harm it has incurred over the past 11 months.
Russia has reportedly lost at least 1,600 tanks, according to an independent assessment based on photographic proof; the Ukrainian military asserts to have 3,100 tanks captured, damaged, or otherwise rendered inoperable. Russia produced remarkably little frontline gear each year prior to the conflict. For instance, from 2014 to 2021, it produced slightly more than 200 main battle tanks year.
As a result of sanctions that restrict Russia from importing technology and the pervasive inefficiencies in the Russian military supply chain, Moscow will have to take an increasing amount of equipment out of storage. Russia’s ability to continue producing at its prewar pace today seems improbable. Ukrainian sources claim that even the most powerful Russian units now in action, including special airborne troops, are armed with inferior equipment. Some Russian soldiers are transported in older vehicles, such as BMP-1 armored personnel carriers from the Soviet era. Without a doubt, this gear is less effective than the frontline equipment the Russian army possessed on February 24.
In other words, Russia is not building a strong new army. It is putting together a weaker force than the one it used to start the war. Although Ukraine has sustained significant military losses and endured numerous strikes on civilian targets, its defenses are always getting stronger. Many of the most negative commentators were telling the Ukrainian army not to get heavy weaponry since it had no chance against the powerful Russians just 11 months ago. Friends of Ukraine mostly provided smaller, handheld systems with assistance. For instance, the artillery and armor of Ukraine are essentially all old Soviet designs.
However, as a result of Russian barbarism shocking the West into action and Ukraine’s military victories demonstrating that cutting-edge weapons would not be wasted, its forces have slowly gotten more NATO-standard gear. Long-range artillery systems, including the French CAESAR self-propelled howitzers and the American High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, were introduced first (HIMARS).
The promise of a significant improvement in Ukraine’s air defense capabilities through Patriot and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems followed. (Training on the latter equipment for Ukrainian military is anticipated to start soon.) Western nations that previously were hesitant of inciting Russian escalation by supplying too much cutting-edge technology have crossed a crucial threshold over the past few days. High-tech armored personnel carriers and presumably even heavy battle tanks, such Leopards and Challenger IIs made in Britain and Germany, may soon be delivered to Ukraine.
Robert Payson O’Brien: What Washington must provide for Zelensky. Many NATO leaders now think that Ukraine must survive the Russian invasion in addition to believing that it can. Any outcome other than a complete Ukrainian triumph will provide some support to the heinous Russian fighting strategies. Putin would be inspired to put other countries that border Russia or those were ruled by the Soviet Union to the test. Recent days have seen pledges of ongoing support for Ukraine from Norway, Finland, the Baltic states, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The security of these donors now depends on Putin’s Russia being defeated; they do not feel that NATO membership will enough to shield them from Russian military intrusion.
Hopefully, this kind of pressure will convince the Biden administration to grant Ukraine access to the last bits of military equipment it needs to drive the Russians out. A few of these are cutting-edge vehicles with enhanced mobility and long-range artillery systems that can strike Russian forces anywhere in the seized Ukraine. This may eventually involve ATACMS guided missiles, which would enable Ukraine to cut supply lines through a significant portion of Russian-occupied territory and enhance the useful range of HIMARS technology.
The Ukrainian army has improved greatly since February in practically every area of equipment, and it will continue to do so. According to a Ukrainian state news outlet, 20,000 Ukrainian personnel have now finished advanced training in NATO nations, and thousands more will do the same in 2023.
If Russian generals continue to deploy numerous inadequately trained soldiers into battle in the next months, the war might turn horrifyingly brutal. However, Ukraine still possesses the majority of the advantages that usually end a war. Its military will be far better equipped, better directed, and trained with the assistance of the West. The majority of Ukrainians are likely to maintain their tenacity because they are forced to prevail.