Europe hardening line on Russia amid Ukraine losses – Asia Times

Europe hardening line on Russia amid Ukraine losses - Asia Times

Two days after the US senator, Joe Biden, signed off on a US$ 60 billion package of military support to Kiev, the effect on the field has been somewhat humble.

Soviet offensive operations have continued unchecked, according to a report released by the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War on May 6. Along significant lines of the west and south’s front, Vladimir Putin’s invasion force continues to make incremental regional gains.

The most important conflict right now appears to be occurring in Chasiv Yar, which was Russia’s most recent victory ten kilometers east of Bakhmut. The town’s fall may serve as an example of both Russia’s strength on the battlefield and the conflict’s very slow pace. However, it would be a more evidence that despite the US assistance package momentum in the conflict remains with Russia, for today.

Expecting Ukraine to reclaim the military initiative right away would have been impossible. Despite this, the US defense department had previously pre-approved for delivery of crucial supplies, including air defence capabilities and artillery ammunition, before Biden’s personal, and was ready to do so in advance of that delivery date.

However, the continuing Russian advance indicates that Russian forces may have to make up room for delays in distributing new supplies to front troops. Even when these logistical issues are resolved, they wo n’t always be able to compensate for Ukraine’s otherwise unfavorable overall balance of resources and people.

ISW map showing Russian territorial gains around the city of Chasiv Yar.
The challenge for Chasiv Yar, May 7 2024. Institute for Research on War

However, it should not be mistaken for the US assistance package’s effect. It provides Ukraine with a crutch.

A Ukrainian defeat did not really seem possible, but it was becoming increasingly likely because its stocks of essential war-fighting equipment were already dwindling. The US assistance package, aside from boosting confidence, will probably give Kiev time to fend off a Soviet unpleasant that is anticipated to occur later this spring.

Unabhängig of the results of the US elections in November, this would almost definitely ensure that Ukraine and its Western allies may be positioned to be ready to produce enough ammunition to get Kiev through what will likely be another hard winter.

Hardening jobs in Europe

As always, this has a larger image that provides some insight into the war’s course.

Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, recently urged his Western allies to think about sending troops to Ukraine as a last resort to a Russian success. Key NATO friends were overwhelmingly opposed to Macron’s initial proposal in February.

Nothing came of it at the moment but the fact that it is back on the table is expected, to some extent at least, to French posturing. Just Lithuania has so far provided a significantly positive response, indicating that it would be prepared to dispatch troops to Ukraine for training.

However, Macron’s perspective suggests that any hawks in the discussion about how to deal with Russia’s danger well beyond this war have found a strong ally in the French leader.

In the UK, there is a comparable way shift. While Lord Cameron, the British overseas secretary, continues to rule out “boots on the ground” in Ukraine, he has expressly affirmed that Kiev may use UK- supplied weapons systems to hit targets inside Russia.

Russia notified training for its military nuclear forces as a result of France’s and Britain’s strengthened jobs. This type of radioactive saber-rattling was likely to occur in Paris and London. But Britain’s choice suggests that at least some in the West are prepared to visit Putin’s mountain.

Prior to now, Kiev was hesitant to allow the UK government to impose itself on Russia by using American weapons to strike targets. This change in American policy gives Cameron’s plan an instantaneity that goes beyond Macron’s boots-on-the-ground language and explains why the Kremlin’s response also included threats to hit the UK.

Harder attitude: the UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, has said Ukraine does use American missiles to strike targets in Russia. &nbsp, EPA- EFE / Foreign Affairs Ministry handout / The Conversation

Ukraine is now able to target Russian supply lines, storage areas, and bases in the immediate areas on the other side of the border due to the US’s aid package, growing European capabilities, and its own increased capacity to manufacture arms. Moscow’s ability to launch and sustain future, large-scale offensive operations could be significantly diminished by this.

Even if Ukraine were to succeed in doing this, it would n’t unapologetically turn the tables in its favor. However, it would lessen the pressure Russia has been putting on recently and give Putin more room to make his decisions regarding the outcome of the conflict with Ukraine and, perhaps more importantly, the wider geopolitical conflict with the West.

No end in sight

In this uncertainty, Moscow is not alone. In Washington, too, there are still few, if any, signs of a clear sense of the endgame or its timing. Jake Sullivan, the US’s national security advisor, appears satisfied that Ukraine will receive military support to maintain the line for the rest of the year and launch a counteroffensive in 2025.

On the positive side, Ukraine’s standing in the event of a victory over Russia on the battlefield is evidence of its resolve to fight and the willingness of its Western allies to support that effort. On the negative, it suggests that any Western strategy appears to be centered more on preventing Ukraine’s defeat than facilitating its victory.

It is not a strategy for bringing an end to the war, though. This obstinate support will not only keep a negotiated agreement from being reached, but it could also ultimately lead to defeat for Ukraine and the West.

Stefan Wolff is Professor of International Security, University of Birmingham

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