View from London: What hope for Ukraine if US military aid dries up?

12:15 14.02.2024 •

Zelensky in the Oval Office is looking for Biden’s help.

With Republicans blocking US military aid, if Europe does not plug the gap Ukraine risks slow-motion defeat, asks The Guardian.

Ukraine began 2024 on the defensive and Kyiv’s battlefield prospects are dimming further as Republicans in the US Congress appear increasingly to be intent on blocking future military aid. If Europe does not plug the gap, Ukraine risks slow-motion defeat from 2025.

A simple figure sums up the problem. Ukraine is once again being outgunned in this near two-year-old war: the current estimate is that Russia is firing 10,000 artillery shells a day to Ukraine’s 2,000, a dismal ratio that may yet worsen in the absence of future US gifts of ammunition.

“What that means is that Ukrainians can’t suppress Russian artillery any more, and if the Ukrainians can’t fire back, all they can do is try to survive,” said Sam Cranny-Evans, of the Royal United Services Institute thinktank.

Russia, meanwhile, has managed a transition to a war economy. Analysis has concluded that Moscow’s factories will produce about 4.5m shells in 2024 (more than 12,000 a day), with Russia having lifted defence spending to a high but sustainable level of 6.5% of GDP. Smaller Ukraine is reliant on western industrial support, but the US political divisions mean the Pentagon has had no more money to spend since the beginning of January, while European efforts have faltered.

Europe had committed to produce 1m shells for Ukraine in the year to the end of March but has fallen short and will instead produce anywhere between 480,000 to 700,000.

“In Europe, the problem has been to put together sufficiently large orders to make it worthwhile for privately owned companies to invest in expanding their capacity,” said Nick Witney, a former chief executive of the European Defence Agency. As a result, Ukraine is reliant on its own manufacturing and any remaining gifts…

Ukraine nevertheless badly needs more troops to reinforce its exhausted and depleted frontline forces, with parliament debating controversial new mobilisation laws after a call from the ousted chief of staff, Valerii Zaluzhyni, for 450,000 to 500,000 fresh soldiers. It is not clear how many will ultimately be pressed into service.


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