Ukraine has surprised the world by halting Russia’s invasion. Much of the world was shocked in late February when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his army to attack its neighbors. The new professional Russian army was expected to make dramatic improvements, its reputation for efficiency not yet earned but considered.
However, the Ukrainian opposition was much stronger than expected and the Russian armored columns were not only stopped but destroyed on several occasions because Ukraine had the greatest effect using any weapons, and the commitment to defend itself with great vigor surprised Russia and the world. Since then, Ukraine has seen a flood of weapons as weapons are being dumped from Europe and the United States.
At the beginning of the war, Ukraine had a slightly larger army than the French army. Well-trained, it was mainly equipped with a combination of Soviet conventional weapons such as T-72 and T-80 tanks, S-300 air defense missile batteries and Sukhoi and MiG fighter jets.
Despite Ukraine’s conquests, Russia’s sluggish progress and Ukraine’s refusing to allow Russian jets into its airspace, a conflict over Ukraine’s stockpiles is inevitable.
If Ukraine is to survive and win the next Russian offensive, Ukraine will need the arrival of heavy weapons. Russia’s reputation has been tarnished and its military is now a proverb for incompetence and brutality. Putin has wiped out weapons and troops from beyond its borders to focus on the upcoming offensive. The promotion of General Alexander Dvornikov, known for his brutal tactics in Chechnya and Syria, means he is now leading the Russian forces for the next phase of the war.
Russia has shifted its troops and shields stationed in Belarus and distributed its forces so that they can focus on the east of Ukraine, with Donbass as the main target. The Russian military concentration near Kharkiv in the north, with large concentrations in Mariupol in the south and now in the east, is in danger of being surrounded and cut off by Ukrainian mechanized units holding Russia.
What Ukraine needs and what is shipped
With six weeks of industrial-scale conflict looming, Ukraine’s need for heavy weapons systems is acute, with an imminent attack in mind. At the top of the list are warplanes, which the EU and the United States are reluctant to provide.
The European Union and the United States have approached countries that still operate Mick and Sukhoi jets in Eastern Europe. Russia’s neighbors or the West do not want the Ukrainian conflict to spread and turn into a wider war, probably involving NATO, and the possibility of using nuclear weapons is firmly in everyone’s minds.
The weapons sent so far are defensive. Slovakia supplies Ukraine with S-300 missile batteries, which prevent Russian airstrikes. Russian jets now have to fly under the radar because Ukraine’s air defense network is functioning so well, and Russia’s casualties were high in the early days of the war.
Russian warplanes flying down the shoulder have become easy prey for air defense systems such as the United Kingdom’s Skystreak and the United States’ Stinger.
MANPADS, or Man-portable Air Defense Systems, have had a major impact on the war. The losses of Russia’s warplanes and helicopters were substantial enough to blunt the attacks.
Other weapons fired from the shoulder like spears destroyed Russian armored columns. Faster, more mobile Ukrainian forces were able to launch more armed attacks against Russian targets and destroy them before escaping quickly.
But US reserves are low. One-third of its spear cargo has already been shipped to Ukraine, and in the event of a confrontation with one of the U.S. adversaries, such as Russia, North Korea or China, U.S. military planners must maintain a reserve for their own defense purposes.
Last week, President Joe Biden made a direct appeal to US arms manufacturers to help increase production of handguns to meet the demands of the Ukrainian military.
Nevertheless, the United States’ decision to replace the 155mm heavy artillery with its exclusion from its policy of donating only defense military equipment to Ukraine. Ukraine has clearly proven that whatever it offers will be gratefully accepted and that it can use any weapon to its best effect. Drones and wandering ammunition, known as comic drones like the Switch Blade, made themselves felt on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine.
It is not just the United States that has relaxed its arms exchange policy. Europe’s views on security have changed dramatically over the past six weeks.
EU Joint Security Policy
The EU’s collective security policy has been strengthened by the Ukrainian conflict. A number of results have emerged: the EU now functions as a group rather than a loose set of loosely aligned countries. It has provided $ 1.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Expressing a clear unity, group leader Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv, pledged European support and said Ukraine had a “European future” and that its membership in the union would be quickly monitored.
The idea of a joint defense based on the EU Armed Forces is now under major consideration. So far, only a rapid deployment force of 5,000 has been agreed, which is far from an EU army. However, the invasion of Ukraine is gradually changing, and once the Europeans wake up, Russia has no qualms about using overt military force to achieve its foreign policy goals.
Germany has reversed its long-standing reluctance to increase its military power, allocating substantial aid to Ukraine and allocating an additional $ 112bn for defense spending. Germany’s defense budget was $ 50bn in 2021. It also promised to raise its defense budget to 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in a few years.
The EU is still trying to keep aid levels below the threshold of escalating conflict beyond Ukraine. It is being tested by the German arms company Rhinemeat, which has offered to upgrade 50 Leopard 2 main battle tanks and send them to Ukraine, as well as training Ukrainian tank crews. This is a “private” concession offered by a company, not a country, which has Russia’s potential for retaliation, although Russia is well aware that it will not be allowed to proceed without this level of agreement. Approval of the German Government.
Ukraine, plagued by more than six weeks of war, is preparing itself for an attack that will shape the outcome of the conflict. Both sides have a lot to do to break the bloody stalemate that has temporarily paralyzed Russia’s strategic progress.
The weapons that Ukraine will receive will be essential to that end but its air force has been reduced and exhausted. For Ukraine’s wars to be decisive, it will require air power, something that the West has repeatedly refused to provide for fear of a wider conflict in NATO.