Is Ukraine getting enough weapons to win? Analysis by military expert Kovalenko
It is no secret that currently Ukraine's defense capability is largely dependent on the supply of weapons and equipment from Western partners. This is due to a number of factors, but still, the question arises from time to time: do the Ukrainian Defense Forces receive everything they need to not only keep defense, but also to successfully attack?
This question is being asked more and more frequently, especially given the results of the summer offensive campaign of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, which ended with a serious depletion of Russian troops, but without large-scale liberation of temporarily occupied territories.
In his article for The Economist, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the AFU, clearly pointed out the main points that prevented Ukraine from achieving its objectives, namely the lack of sufficient equipment for demining, issues of artillery and its support, electronic warfare, aviation and the missile component.
And just the other day, the former commander of the US Army in Europe, ex-Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, in an interview with the Estonian TV channel ETV, noted that the US provides Ukraine with assistance sufficient for defense, but not for offensive operations, stressing that an offensive without total air support is fatal. The US Army, for example, would never conduct such an offensive.
Meanwhile, liberation of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions in 2022 without total air support, liberation of Kharkiv region without air support, liberation of right-bank Kherson region. How about it, Ben? But there's a nuance.
At some point, where it was possible to play beyond common sense, it will no longer be possible to repeat and, realizing this, since 2022 Kyiv has regularly sent requests for the provision of those weapons that may be needed in the short term. In particular, we are talking about the aviation component - F-16 and operational-tactical missiles - ATACMS. But, as it is known, Ukraine, which had been requesting ATACMS of M-39 modification since 2022, received them only in October 2023, having immediately demonstrated the highest efficiency of their use.
On October 17, as part of Operation Dragonfly, a strike was carried out on the airfields of temporarily occupied Luhansk and Berdyansk, which resulted in the destruction of 7 Ka-52 attack helicopters and 2 multi-role Mi-8s, as well as damage to 15 Ka-52s and 7 Mi-8s. A total of 22 Ka-52 attack helicopters and 9 multirole Mi-8s were taken out of combat-ready condition.
The question arises: if Kyiv has been requesting ATACMS since 2022, why did it receive them only in October 2023? A similar question arises with regard to F-16s.
These light fighters are superior to the Russian ones in a number of respects and could change the situation on the battlefield to a great extent, but... But the Armed Forces of Ukraine still does not have them. Why?
If we follow the logic, the F-16s require: training of pilots who would be able to operate these fighters in a basic way. For an experienced pilot with skills to operate Soviet fighters, this period of training may take 4-6 months; training of technical personnel who would service not only the fighters, but also the base - the airfield where they are located; preparation of the airfield and the entire infrastructure to receive and maintain these fighters; creation of an appropriate anti-aircraft security dome in the area of the airfield to minimize the risks of missile attacks on the facility from Russia.
There are a lot of tasks, and each of them takes a plenty of time to fulfil. But the sooner you start, the sooner you finish, right? Meanwhile, instead of starting in 2022, the process started only in the second half of 2023.....
Another issue is tanks. Today, the most reliable supplier of tanks for Ukraine is Poland. Not the US, not Germany, not the UK, but Poland. Since 2022, it is Poland that has transferred the most tanks to Ukraine - more than 320 verified, confirmed. Among them: 250 - T-72M/M1, 60 - PT-91 Twardy, 14 - Leopard-2A4.
No other country has transferred as many tanks to Ukraine as Poland. The question arises: why not? Ukrainian tank crews are the most experienced not only in Europe, but also in the world. What army in the world has such a unique experience of destroying such a wide range of T-72 tanks and its modifications T-80, T-90, as well as Soviet models, than Ukraine?
But instead of tanks, the Ukrainian army received a squadron of Challenger-2, a battalion of M1A1 Abrams, an incomplete regiment of Leopard-2. And a promise to transfer in some perspective 250 Leopard-1s, which have long been morally obsolete.
One gets the impression that Ukraine's partners are trying to help win the war with Russia at the lowest possible cost, but, unfortunately, this is impossible. Only a complete, absolute in all positions commitment can crush the pre-imperial anachronism in the form of the Russian Federation and bring it down to the level of feudalization.
Unfortunately, the partners still do not realize this dogma.
And despite Valeriy Zaluzhnyi's candid article in The Economist and Ben Hodges' voice, the parallel reality of an abstracted West remains far more monolithic than Ukraine's urgent and critical need for... not survival. For - victory.
About the author: Oleksandr Kovalenko, journalist, political and military observer