Two months into the war, Western sanctions were not enough to deter Russia. As Moscow continues its offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine, Kyiv’s allies are now opting for long-term military support, betting on the delivery of heavy weapons.
Will the war of nerves overcome Vladimir Putin’s determination? The Western strategy of maximum pressure on Russia took a new step this week with a series of announcements aimed at strengthening the Ukrainian army.
Kyiv’s allies, who have so far been limited to economic sanctions and the supply of so-called defensive weapons, are betting on sending howitzers, tanks, helicopters and drones to allow Kiev to fend off the ‘invader’. While Russia condemns hostile maneuvers and raises the risk of a “third world war,” the United States and Europe now intend to bolster Ukraine’s long-term defense.
war will continue
While the United States had already announced two military aid plans to Ukraine totaling $1.6 billion (€1.52 billion), Joe Biden asked the US Congress on Thursday, April 28, to release a $33 billion (€31.32 billion euro) budget extension for Kiev.
This huge investment includes about twenty billion dollars in military aid, three billion in humanitarian aid, in addition to 8 billion in economic aid to the Ukrainian government to keep the institutions running and pay salaries.
“According to the Biden administration, this plan is necessary to enable Ukraine to deal with the next five months, because Washington considers that this war will continue,” explains Sonia Dridi, a France 24 correspondent in Washington.
For General Dominique Trenquin, the former head of the French military mission to the United Nations, Joe Biden’s request represents a turning point in US engagement with Ukraine. We can clearly see that the president is planning in the long run with huge money, $33 billion, and he has asked Congress because he can no longer get the extraordinary money that he has already benefited from. He’s asking for American unity on this, which is very important.”
Modernization and training of the Ukrainian army
After failing to encircle the Ukrainian capital in late March, Russian forces refocused their efforts on the Russian-speaking Donbass region to the east. But in recent weeks, Russian military officials have hinted that this area is only one step toward a broader invasion of the country’s south. Faced with this threat, the Westerners, who had hitherto been reluctant to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, made the decision.
At a meeting earlier this week that brought together about 40 nations at the American base in Ramstein, Germany, the Netherlands pledged to provide several howitzers, which the government presented as “the heaviest artillery of the Dutch army.” Meanwhile, Germany promised, which even withdrew Now on this issue, sending Cheetah tanks from its former military arsenal, while France announced the delivery of Caesar cannons with a range of 40 kilometers.
“NATO allies are preparing to provide long-term support to Ukraine and help in the transition from obsolete Soviet-era equipment to more modern weapons and weapons systems to NATO standards, which will also require further training,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.
In addition to its own military means, Ukraine benefits from three additional types of weapons, General Trinquant explains. First, there is the abandoned armament of the Russian army, that is, from 200 to 250 tanks, which, for comparison, represent all the tanks of the French army. Then comes the armaments provided by the countries of Eastern Europe, which have armaments similar to that of Ukraine, for a period of two weeks. Here, too, this material can be used immediately. Finally, there is the armament provided by the Americans, the French, the British, etc. The Ukrainians know nothing about this equipment, so you have to train them, bring the equipment, and that takes time.”
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Unsurprisingly, this project aimed at supporting Ukraine militarily is viewed very poorly by Moscow. While Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of the dangers of a “third world war”, Vladimir Putin, at the same time, warned against any outside interference in the conflict, promising “quickly”.
“We want to see Russia so weak that it can’t do the same things as invading Ukraine,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said a few days ago. Exit tempered by Joe Biden during his speech to the US Congress. The President of the United States made it clear that it was not about attacking Russia but about helping Ukraine defend itself.
General Dominic Trinquent said Lloyd Austin’s comments were “extremely dangerous” as they fuel Russian propaganda for an attack on Russia. This topic should be removed and the legal position we are in should be supported. It’s Article 51 of the UN Charter: When a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself and we have the right to help it. In this context we must place ourselves: defending an attacking country, not defeating the aggressor.