With Russia failing to achieve a strategic breakthrough, a long and bloody battle for eastern Ukraine looms

By | May 12, 2022

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Western weapons, including NATO-standard 155-mm howitzers supplied by the U.S. and its allies, have begun arriving on the battlefield in Donbas. Ukrainian officials say that will allow them to switch from defense to offense and seek to regain lost ground.

“Our first task was to stop and destroy the enemy, but after that we have to liberate everything that they have taken from us. This will take time, at least the whole summer. It won’t be quick,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Ukrainian military administration for Donetsk region, said in an interview. “The important thing is that the weapons from our partners, especially the U.S., arrive quickly.”

With the conflict turning into a war of attrition, only continuing foreign support could allow Ukraine to survive and repulse its much bigger and better-armed neighbor, Ukrainian officials say. This now largely hinges on the U.S. Senate moving quickly on the $40 billion Ukraine bill that was passed by the House on Tuesday, they say. The bill includes more than $18.7 billion in military and security aid to Ukraine and to backfill already distributed U.S. defense supplies.

“We enter the new phase of the war amid a global change in the attitude toward repelling Russia. Despite immense pressure and missile attacks on us, Russia is now pushing itself into a situation where it won’t be able to win the resource war,” said Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar. “But it will take time for the Western weapons to arrive in quantities needed to equalize the balance and ensure our victory. In the meantime, we will face very difficult weeks, or even months, ahead.”

Ukraine is able to move Western arms through the country because of the success of its air defenses in deterring Russian warplanes from operating over most Ukrainian-controlled territory.

This means that Russia’s only way of striking deep into Ukraine is via expensive cruise missiles launched from Russia, Belarus or ships in the Black and Caspian seas. Russia so far hasn’t been able to track moving targets, such as weapons convoys, away from the Ukrainian front lines and is focusing instead on hitting with missiles infrastructure targets like bridges and fuel facilities—and often apartment blocks. [Continue reading…]

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