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Reviews | How can Ukraine get the most out of US aid?

Reviews |  How can Ukraine get the most out of US aid?


The approval of more than $60 billion in new military aid for Ukraine makes it look like the cavalry is coming to town to save the day for the good guys. It's a moment to savor for a briefly bipartisan Washington and even more so for the beleaguered troops on the front lines in Ukraine.

But let's be frank: the delivery of a major U.S. aid package will mean the continuation of this bloody war of attrition, not its end. While this is a psychological breakthrough for kyiv and a setback for Moscow, any decisive change on the battlefield will depend on how Ukraine uses U.S. weapons, particularly its ability to put endangering Russian positions in occupied Crimea.

The new ATACM-300 medium-range missiles could be a game-changer in the conflict. These precision weapons will allow Ukraine to strike deep into Russian-occupied territory in Crimea, Donbass and coastal regions, hitting airfields, supply depots, transit zones and command centers and Russian control in Ukraine.

ATACMS will degrade Russian logistics in Ukraine in the short term, a senior administration official said Tuesday. In the longer term, Russia will have to reconsider its strategy. This could eventually pave the way for a just and negotiated peace.

Russian analysts acknowledge that they have lost momentum. With the new U.S. aid, some increase in Ukraine's defensive and offensive potential is possible, according to Dmitry Stefanovich, a researcher for a think tank associated with the Russian Academy of Sciences. He added that on a symbolic level, American aid would clearly boost the morale of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Vasily Kashin, another analyst in Moscow, warned of further military pressure on Russia. Ukraine will have additional high-precision weapons that it will use against our troops and territory. He added that new air defense weapons destined for Ukraine will again limit the use of Russian aircraft, which in recent weeks have struck power plants and other targets in Ukraine almost at will.

The two Russian experts' comments were cited this week by a Russian-language website called RTVI. They were translated and sent to me on Tuesday by the retired brigadier. General Kevin Ryan, former defense attaché in Moscow.

How soon can new American weapons be delivered to Ukraine? William B. Taylor Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to kyiv, believes that because the Pentagon has prepositioned munitions and other supplies in southern Poland, the new supplies could arrive within days. Administration officials agree that some critical artillery munitions could even be delivered within hours, depending on how many trucks Ukraine is able to assemble.

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Ukraine desperately lacks air defense systems, and here too, Congressional action will reduce the likelihood of disaster. Defending Ukraine's skies is a complex problem because the country has a mix of NATO and Soviet-era systems. Congressional action will allow the rapid shipment of U.S. interceptors, and the Biden administration is rushing to obtain Soviet equipment from partner countries that were once allied with Moscow.

Ukraine's weakened air defense will also be bolstered by what the Pentagon calls its FrankenSAM program aimed at adapting Soviet-built launchers to use U.S. surface-to-air missiles. This hybrid experiment was successful, the senior administration official said.

U.S. officials are urging the Ukrainians to use the new military aid to shore up their lines and hold out until the end of 2024, rather than rushing another counteroffensive like last year's unsuccessful push toward the Sea. Azov. We need them to strengthen this year so they can regain territory next year, the senior administration official said.

Russian analysts warn that Ukraine, for all its recent turmoil, was not on the brink of collapse. In fact, there was no failure on the front, there was no abandonment of the big cities, nor even the small ones. Ukrainian military personnel are not surrendering en masse, etc., the RTVI commentary observes, adding that Ukraine has an impressive number of soldiers in reserve.

The Russians are as tired and demoralized as the Ukrainians, Taylor argued. Although both Moscow and kyiv have been buzzing with rumors of a major Russian attack, Taylor remains skeptical. If the Russians had the ability to break through, they would have done so during the months of delay in U.S. aid, he said.

Finland, which fought Russian rule for 75 years before finally joining NATO last year, is a model of Ukrainian resistance. This story is told in a new Russian and English translation of a book titled How Finland Survived Stalin, which is being read closely in Moscow, according to Finland's ambassador to Washington, Mikko Hautala.

Joseph Stalin believed he could conquer Finland, just as Vladimir Putin believed he could dominate Ukraine. Everyone thought that it was not a question of confronting a real country, but rather of reconquering a capricious vestige of the Russian empire. To paraphrase a phrase from the book: what is the idea of ​​Ukraine? Survive.

Thanks to President Biden and a strong bipartisan majority in Congress and especially to the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded Ukrainians who fought in their darkest moments, the survival of an independent Ukraine seems more certain today than it a week ago.




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