Fri. May 31st, 2024

Give Ukraine Just One More Shot at Victory – Let Congress Seal the Deal!

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson May23,2024

Last month, Ukraine was forced to surrender Avdiivka, an embattled city in eastern Donetsk that I last visited last fall.

Avdiivka’s Ukrainian garrison had beaten back repeated Russian assaults, only for its dwindling munitions stockpiles ultimately to force a surrender. Russian artillery was firing at a rate ten times that of Ukrainian defenders, who were forced to ration shells as Western supplies dried up.

As weakened air defenses expose Ukraine’s cities to attack, the U.S. House of Representatives must vote this weekend to send Ukraine the aid it desperately needs.

The war in Ukraine has entered its third year, and this one could prove decisive. Ukraine has a pathway to a military and diplomatic victory, but so does Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is amassing a strategic reserve in preparation for a spring offensive. He feels emboldened after his sham re-election to take even more territory.

Only more artillery shells and air defense missiles will allow Ukraine to halt Russian advances and turn the tide in a war that threatens its very survival. Ukraine wins if it can continue to counter Russia’s onslaught with allied support; Russia wins if the West fails to support Ukraine. 

I have witnessed the terrible human toll of the war in Ukraine. But Putin refuses to make peace unless Ukraine surrenders its sovereignty. That leaves Ukraine with no other option but to keep fighting.

Successful Ukrainian military resistance, on the other hand, would likely lead to the liberation of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and an armistice line closer to the Russian border. Ukraine needs to demonstrate to Putin that he cannot gain more territory militarily, putting itself in a stronger position to negotiate an end to the conflict. The final armistice line should ensure Ukraine’s long-term security and economic viability, with sea lanes open and Western powers guaranteeing Ukraine’s security. 

The last year of fighting has seen the two parties embroiled in bitter trench and urban warfare. In 2023, only 200 square miles of territory exchanged hands from Russia to Ukraine, less than a tenth of what Ukraine won in its 2022 offensive. Meanwhile, the death toll from Russia’s brutal war has crossed half a million. Soldiers are safe nowhere as reconnaissance and kamikaze drones dominate the airspace, monitoring any movement in the “death zone” separating Ukrainian and Russian troops. 

Russia has caught up to Ukraine’s initial innovation advantage. It is now able to counter any new battlefield innovation from the Ukrainian side within three to six weeks. Most crucially, the Russians have skillfully employed electronic countermeasures against Ukraine’s army of drones.

Russian counter-drone operations have effectively neutralized a significant portion of Ukraine’s drone capabilities. At the same time, Russian drone production has surged since the start of the war, now likely outpacing Ukraine’s by a ratio of two to one. As with most protracted wars in modern history, this one will also be decided by who innovates the fastest. War is a crucible of progress, and Ukraine needs the support necessary to give it the time to innovate. 

With Western supplies slowing, Ukraine has been forced to ration its use of air defense missiles. As a result, Russian fighter bombers are able to attack relentlessly: reports indicate that more than 100 KAB glide bombs strike Ukrainian positions every day. These massive bombs are dropped 50 km from the front lines to avoid Ukrainian anti-air missiles and devastate anything they hit. Ukrainian commanders told me Avdiivka was lost because of the relentless KAB bombardment — not even the most fortified position can survive a direct hit. These strikes will likely increase as Russia has accelerated production and is now building a three-ton aerial bomb. 

When it comes to military aid, the top priority must be to provide Ukraine with more air defense missiles and artillery shells. Russian assault groups have rushed toward the frontline with infantry-laden vehicles in an effort to break through Ukraine’s defenses. Ukraine needs responsive and heavy artillery fire to defend against this onslaught. Providing Ukraine with around $2.5 billion for artillery shells would enable it to sustain its defenses; $7 billion would allow its armed forces to stage substantial counter-offensives.

Additionally, long-range weapons will counter Russia’s firepower advantage by allowing Ukraine to target artillery pieces and ammunition depots behind the frontlines. Ukraine has done this successfully before. In 2022 and again in 2023 Ukraine used a handful of Western-supplied HIMARs to strike Russian depots, supply lines and command centers. 

To win, Ukraine will also need large quantities of tanks and mechanized vehicles. If Ukraine is to win the war, it will not be in a single offensive, but rather through a series of smaller offensives, each of which build on the others. 

This will be no simple feat. Over the last year, Russia has significantly increased its defense spending and production while maintaining a steady resupply of new recruits. In so doing, it has relied on support from allies — chief among them China — to evade Western sanctions. Oil revenues are higher now than they were before the war, funding Russia’s military output. Russia is now organized on a complete war footing.    

Still, its capacity to sustain its current efforts may be dwindling. Russian industry will only be able to produce about one-third of the 152 mm artillery rounds required by its Ministry of Defense for 2024. Supply chain bottlenecks and Western sanctions have driven up the cost of new components by as much as 30 percent. Many of its systems are outdated — six out of seven new Russian tanks used in 2023 were refurbished. While Russia has far outpaced Ukraine’s production of artillery shells, it will start running low on artillery guns next year. Moscow also faces looming manpower challenges and has increasingly relied on convicts and foreign mercenaries to replace its massive battlefield losses.

This weekend, the House will vote on a long-term aid package that was approved by the Senate and includes around $60 billion for Ukraine. Most of this money will remain in the U.S., with over half going directly to the Pentagon and another quarter to U.S. defense companies. The package is a win-win for the U.S. and Ukraine. 

To stay in the fight and ultimately press its advantages, Ukraine relies on the support of the free world. Russia is a formidable opponent, constantly improving its military and technological capabilities and continuing to threaten Ukraine’s independence. That Ukrainian fighters are able to hold defensive lines is a testament to their unwavering confidence and their courage in continuing to resist their once and current occupier.

If America comes through, this might just be the year that Ukraine needs to push Russia back and achieve an outcome its people can live with.

Eric Schmidt is former CEO of Google.

Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

Related Post

2 thoughts on “Give Ukraine Just One More Shot at Victory – Let Congress Seal the Deal!”
  1. I firmly believe that Congress should provide the necessary aid to Ukraine to help them defend their sovereignty. The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine has shown the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people, and it is essential that the U.S. steps up to support them in this critical moment. Failure to do so would only embolden Putin and jeopardize Ukraine’s future.

  2. Can the U.S. House of Representatives truly make a difference by sending aid to Ukraine at this crucial moment?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *