Ukraine war: West ups ante with aid to Kiev – 26/04/2022 – World

More than two months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the West increasingly abandons fears of provoking a Third World War with Moscow and doubles down on supplying offensive weapons for Kiev to fight Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Under heavy attack since February 24, Ukrainians have already seen international military aid exceed, in nominal terms, their entire defense budget. That’s about $7 billion already announced, $3.7 billion from the United States alone, compared to a total spend by Kiev in 2021 of $4.3 billion.

This Tuesday (26), 40 NATO and allied countries gathered at the largest American base in Europe, in Ramstein, Germany. There, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, newly arrived from Kiev, led an effort to increase the influx of armored vehicles, artillery pieces and sophisticated missile systems.

In addition to promises already made by powers such as France and the United Kingdom, it achieved an important political victory: Germany announced that it would supply armored vehicles with used Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Kiev. The number was not specified, but it marks a fundamental change.

The country most associated with Europe’s dependence on Russia for gas and oil, Germany had been resisting the delivery of heavier material for defense against the Russians. It had already broken through a barrier by announcing a plan for its own rearmament, tripling this year’s military budget.

According to Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s government, nearly $2 billion is earmarked for aid to Kiev, and the figure could be increased by $1.5 billion if the sale of 100 PzH-2000 howitzers is approved.

The Gepard, used in countries like Brazil, is used to protect armored columns from air cannon attacks. Something obsolete, it can be quite effective against Russian low-altitude attack planes, such as the Su-25s widely used in Ukraine.

On Monday, after Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited President Volodymyr Zelensky, the US had already announced another package of military aid, worth US$713 million in 90 howitzers, ammunition, radars and drones. attack suicides.

As a result, Washington has established itself as the main provider of what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the West’s “proxy war” against Russia in Ukraine. That’s US$ 3.7 billion announced since the beginning of the war, almost all of Kiev’s military budget in 2021, as measured by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London).

Values ​​reach and can exceed US$7 billion, although the accounts are obscure because there is no centralized data and there is a risk of overlap. Aid from the EU’s $1.6 billion special fund could include some of the German contribution.

So far, according to the Institute for the World Economy in Kiel (Germany), 31 countries have given aid to Ukraine, most of them military. The fear is greater in the countries of the eastern fringe of NATO, which see themselves as the next step if Putin wins in Ukraine: Poland does not give values, but has committed to transfer 100 T-72 tanks of Soviet origin to Kiev, while Estonia has supplied equivalent to 0.8% of its GDP in military aid.

Western portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems were vital for Ukraine to resist the initial phase of the Russian war, with several attack fronts and little concentration of forces. The British, for example, gave 5,400 NLAW missiles to attack armored vehicles. That has now changed, with action focused on the east and south of the country in the so-called Battle of the Donbass, and so there is a race for material suitable for large-scale movement warfare, such as artillery, tanks and attack drones.

The aeronautical issue remains, however, a taboo. NATO never accepted the request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, and the US vetoed the transfer of 28 MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland to Kiev.

On the other hand, last week Pentagon spokesman John Kirby suggested that the West had supplied planes to Kiev, only to say that they were just spare parts. In Moscow’s accounts, the damage to the Ukrainian Air Force is great, but not total, as was expected after two months of action.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday it had so far shot down 141 manned aircraft of the rival, which had 124 fighter planes and about 120 helicopters before the war. Moscow says it destroyed 269 anti-aircraft systems, but does not specify how many are long-range, such as the Soviet S-300s used by the Ukrainians.

NATO member Slovakia even transferred such systems to Kiev, but the Russians say they destroyed them. Moscow has already said that these weapons are legitimate targets, but it has not risked attacking convoys so far, preferring to bomb warehouses where they are placed before going into the field.

From the beginning, Putin threatened anyone who supported Ukraine with anything less than the use of nuclear weapons. Repeatedly draws this card, as in the test of a new intercontinental missile last week.

It worked at first, with President Joe Biden himself saying he would not get involved directly, lest it start World War III, cited on Monday again by Chancellor Lavrov as “a very serious risk.” The issue reached China, Putin’s biggest ally. “Nobody wants a Third World War. It is necessary to support peace talks,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

Gradually, however, the idea of ​​war by proxy is consolidated, and Western rhetoric intensifies. The fact that Austin and Blinken defied the risk of a Russian attack when visiting Kiev counts: the defense secretary left the country saying that the US works to weaken Russia, and this Tuesday his spokesman said that Putin already commands. “a militarily weaker state”.

Few things are more deleterious to the Russian elite than suggestions of American humiliation, and the loss of the cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea has shaken Russian military prestige as much as the failure to take Kiev in three days. That could lead, say some analysts in Moscow, to an intensification of the conflict in eastern and southern Ukraine so that some sort of victory can be announced before Western reinforcements prolong the war indefinitely.

So far, Putin has survived in terms of popularity, and the Russian economy, heavily affected by sanctions, is also fluctuating. How long this will last is anyone’s guess.

For the most pessimistic, an eventual glimmer of Russian defeat could lead to the nuclear card on the table being used, perhaps a warning blast over the Black Sea or even the use of a low-powered tactical weapon in Ukraine. But the scenario is seen as apocalyptic for the Russians too, as it could provide a formal justification for NATO to enter the war for good.

For military analyst Michael Kofman, from the American center CNA, the Russians are suffering from a lack of strength even in the new, more concentrated offensive. In this scenario, as American statements suggest, the West sees Putin as a nuclear dog that barks but does not bite.

On the other hand, there is coordinated pressure to close a circle around Ukrainian troops fighting alongside the breakaway regions of the Donbass, which would be a severe blow to Kiev if successful.

As the Russian military blog BMDP, one of the most influential on the networks, recalls, on the other hand, the offensive for now is still in Putin’s hands, which in theory allows him to seek alternative outlets to be able to claim victory, despite the presumed capitulation of Kiev. in a few days has not materialized.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

Check Also

Cats know each other’s names and the names of people they live with

In recent years, scientists have been proving that cats really do connect deeply with humans, …