With New Weapons, Ukraine Has Much of What It Needs for Counteroffensive, Analysts Say

The brand new long-range missiles, assault drones and tanks and different armored autos that President Volodymyr Zelensky has secured from allies in current days will fulfill many, however not all, of the calls for for weapons that Ukraine mentioned it wants for a counteroffensive towards Russia.

Navy analysts consider a minimum of a number of the newest tranche of Western weapons will probably be rapidly despatched to the entrance traces to chop off Russian provide routes and to strike at their artillery programs and command facilities in Ukraine’s south and east. Others could also be delivered later, together with within the autumn or past, to assist Mr. Zelensky plan for future operations ought to the warfare proceed to pull on.

However the sturdy bundle — introduced as Mr. Zelensky visited 4 European capitals over the past three days — might sign that Western officers now consider Ukraine may retake vital swaths of territory within the counteroffensive, mentioned Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a former Danish military intelligence officer.

“We wouldn’t be committing this quantity of weapons to Ukraine at this level, if the pondering was that it was unlikely that they might succeed,” mentioned Mr. Kirkegaard, who’s now a senior fellow on the German Marshall Fund analysis group in Brussels.

Some Western officers hope that if the Ukrainians make substantial positive factors of territory, they might have extra leverage in any peace negotiations.

Simply final week, Mr. Zelensky had warned that the anticipated counteroffensive towards Russia that was anticipated to start this spring or early summer time might be delayed until Kyiv rapidly obtained extra weapons.

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European allies responded in a matter of hours.

Maybe essentially the most vital dedication got here from Germany, which on Saturday introduced — simply earlier than Mr. Zelensky landed in Berlin — that it will ship Ukraine 30 further Leopard tanks and 20 armored preventing autos, 16 air protection programs, greater than 200 drones and a slew of different arms and ammunition. The leaders of France and Italy additionally gave vaguer guarantees to ship gentle tanks, ammunition and air protection programs.

The extra Leopards and infantry preventing autos that Germany is sending as a part of its bundle value 2.7 billion euros, or practically $3 billion, will probably be most helpful on Ukraine’s southern steppe, the place the Russian-controlled terrain, Mr. Kirkegaard mentioned, is properly suited “for tank or maneuver warfare.”

However Max Bergmann, the director of the Europe, Russia and Eurasia program on the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research in Washington, famous that it was not clear that all the newly-pledged German tanks would arrive quickly. (Berlin has already delivered 18 Leopard tanks to Ukraine.)

Nevertheless, he mentioned, the dedication “helps give Ukraine a level of confidence” as army planners put together for a drawn-out battle.

As of early March, solely 31 p.c of tanks and 76 p.c of different armored preventing autos had been delivered to Ukraine for the approaching counteroffensive, in response to categorised U.S. army assessments that have been just lately leaked, though American officers have mentioned much more have been delivered within the months since. The Biden administration has additionally pledged to ship 31 American-made Abrams tanks to Ukraine, however they don’t seem to be anticipated to reach till fall on the earliest.

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The brand new air protection programs that have been promised might assist ease American worries that Ukraine didn’t have sufficient to guard itself because the counteroffensive neared. 4 of the 16 air protection programs that Germany has newly pledged are thought of among the many most subtle available on the market.

The newly promised long-range Storm Shadow missiles, which Britain pledged on Thursday, assist reply a longstanding request from Ukraine. The US has up to now resisted sending American long-range missiles to Ukraine, partially to keep away from doubtlessly escalating the warfare with weapons that Ukraine may use to achieve into Russian territory.

Mr. Kirkegaard mentioned the long-range drones that Britain pledged on Monday are of specific menace to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet within the Crimean port of Sevastopol and different websites in and close to Crimea, together with the Kerch Strait Bridge that connects occupied Crimea to Russia.

Crimea has been a key staging floor for the Russians working in captured territory in southern Ukraine.

Jean Nicholas

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