A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Apr 3, 2024

How Ukraine's Military Needs Have Evolved Since the Russian Invasion Began

It's just not the same war. Two years ago, tanks seemed crucial. Now, they are often irrelevant. Drones were hobbyists' experiments. Now, fighting a war without them is quite literally inconceivable. A year ago, F-16s sounded like game changers. Now, they may be too little, too late.

Every weapons system has its moment. The days of 'St Javelin" (as Ukrainians once dubbed the anti-tank missiles) and naming children after the Turkish Bayraktar drone seem as quaintly historic as a cavalry charge. At this point, with high tech trench warfare the rule, weapons like artillery and kamikaze FPV drones are what Ukraine needs.

Mikhaila Friel reports in Business Insider:

The shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles provided by the UK and the US in the first weeks of the invasion proved decisive in the defense of Kyiv. "Every weapon has its own right time. (If) we don't get the weapons at the time we need them, they're no longer relevant. F-16s were needed in 2023; they won't be right for 2024." What Ukraine really needs (now) are traditional weapons and drones in greater volume "for the large mass of troops Russia is likely to hurl at us. What can one tank do? Not as much as Howitzers, artillery shells and  drones."

Ukraine is struggling as weapons from the West are no longer a significant match for Russia, according to a high-ranking military officer who spoke to Politico.

The officer, who was interviewed anonymously, said Ukraine's allies were useful in the early stages of the invasion.

But these days, they said, the support has been too little and too slow to meaningfully help repel Russia.

He said the shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles provided by the UK and the US in the first weeks of the invasion were delivered on time, and proved decisive in the defense of Kyiv.

 

"But often, we just don't get the weapons systems at the time we need them — they come when they're no longer relevant," the officer said.

"Every weapon has its own right time. F-16s were needed in 2023; they won't be right for 2024," he said.

Western allies — after months of lobbying — agreed to give Ukraine F-16s, but none of the planes are due on the battlefield until later this year because pilots are still training to fly them.

These comments come during a significant waiting period. House Republicans in the US have long stood in the way of a funding package supported by the White House and Senate.This week, House Speaker Mike Johnson outlined a different plan to get support to Ukraine, but it is unclear whether that is viable either.

 

In the meantime, per Politico's sources, the usefulness of any such aid is declining.

"There's nothing that can help Ukraine now because there are no serious technologies able to compensate Ukraine for the large mass of troops Russia is likely to hurl at us," another unnamed senior military source told the outlet.

"We don't have those technologies, and the West doesn't have them as well in sufficient numbers."

 

A third unnamed source said what Ukraine really needs are traditional weapons and drones in greater volume.

"We need Howitzers and shells, hundreds of thousands of shells, and rockets," the officer said, estimating that Ukraine requires at least 4 million shells and 2 million drones.

The comments echo those by Jonathan Poquette, a US veteran fighting in Ukraine. In a recent interview with Business Insider's Sinéad Baker, Poquette said he isn't interested in more expensive, attention-grabbing equipment like tanks.

"Give me bullets. Give me mortars. Give me artillery. Give me things that'll allow the individual soldiers to fight and kill the Russians," he said.

 

He said that while tanks "do matter, I think it overshadows the complete picture," which is the need for "ammunition, grenades, claymores, or other types of mines, rockets, various different rocket systems."

"What can one tank do?" he asked rhetorically, saying: "Not as much as 50,000 artillery shells, 5,000 mortar shells."

Ukraine's allies have collectively delivered more than a million artillery rounds, as well as heavy equipment like tanks and infantry fighting vehicles and long-range missiles like the Storm Shadow.

The US has provided $44.2 billion in military assistance since the invasion began, it said. But that aid came in stages, gradually ramping up Ukraine's capabilities.

 

Ukraine complained that was never enough to prompt a breakthrough, but the US and others said the slow pace was necessary to reduce the risk of Russia escalating the war.

1 comments:

waffle said...

What a thoughtful and insightful post! Thank you for sharing with us. Now try to play the game with me.

Post a Comment