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ISW analyses what will help Ukraine regain control over its territory

27 April, 2024 Saturday
15:28

Ukraine's ability to regain all the territories captured by Russia will depend on future decisions in the West, the Kremlin and Kyiv, as well as the ability of all parties to dynamically change the course of the war

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This is stated in a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

According to analysts, some US officials have resumed discussions on the idea of freezing the lines where they are, as the latest US military aid package to Ukraine may not be enough to liberate all the territories occupied by Russia. However, the Institute noted that it is too early to draw such conclusions, as the weapons must reach the frontline and demonstrate the appropriate effect for the advancement of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Supporters of the current US military aid package do not claim that it will alone allow Ukraine to liberate all the occupied territory, and discussions of possible end states of the war are very premature, as US President Joe Biden signed the bill only two days ago.

"US military assistance is currently en route to Ukraine and will take several weeks to arrive to frontline units and have tangible battlefield impacts.Ukrainian forces will first have to leverage the incoming US aid to stabilize the frontlines and stop ongoing Russian advances, particularly in the Avdiivka and Chasiv Yar directions, in the coming weeks," the report says.

At the same time, the ISW notes that the scale and intensity of Russia's projected summer 2024 offensive, scheduled to begin in June, also remains unclear, and the Russian military command is actively assessing and revising its summer offensive plans to take into account the confrontation with the better-equipped Ukrainian army.

Ukrainian forces will need to defend against Russian summer offensives and prevent the Russians from making operationally significant gains during the summer months before the Ukrainian Armed Forces can seize the initiative across the theater and launch a counteroffensive in late 2024 or 2025.

The defense forces also need to address current manpower shortages by training new personnel, equipping new units, and rehabilitating old ones. The exact timeline for these efforts, which are likely to play a significant role in determining the timetable for Ukraine's future counter-offensive operations, is uncertain.

According to the ISW, sufficient and consistent Western assistance will be critical to Ukraine's future counteroffensive efforts. However, the US and the West will need to respond quickly, as Ukrainian military commanders determine the scope and focus of such operations and communicate Ukraine's needs to Western partners in the weeks and months leading up to future counteroffensives.

"Ukraine’s ability to regain all of its territory in the long term rests on numerous future decisions in the West, in the Kremlin, and in Kyiv, and any discussions that treat the prospects of Ukrainian victory or defeat as predetermined outcomes ignore how all involved parties could dynamically alter the course of the war in Ukraine," the ISW report says.

In addition, it recalled President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's statement during the Ramstein meeting that the Armed Forces of Ukraine need long-range weapons and air defense systems, as Russian troops have used more than 9,000 guided glider bombs against Ukraine since the beginning of 2024.

The Institute also quoted US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as saying that additional Patriot systems for the Armed Forces are not a "silver bullet", and that many other factors will determine the course of hostilities.

"No single weapons system is a silver bullet, to be sure, but the Patriot is one of the very few air defense systems able to engage Russian ballistic missiles and also to hit Russian fighter-bombers outside the range of Russian glide bombs," the report says.

  • Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin announced the largest package of military aid from the United States to Ukraine, totaling $6 billion. 
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