Staying in the Ring

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More than two years after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade his western neighbor, Ukrainian forces are showing signs of breaking.

In recent months, the Russians have reclaimed territory that Ukraine had seized back. Putin has been striking more forcefully at Ukrainian civilian energy infrastructure, too, as Amnesty International explained. For example, a recent Russian attack destroyed the Trypillia Thermal Power Plant, which was the main electricity supplier for Kyiv and two other regions, the Kyiv Independent wrote. Meanwhile, morale and manpower are both in short supply in the Ukrainian military, as are artillery shells, other munitions and air defense systems that can repel Russian attacks.

“Ukraine’s long-range capabilities, artillery, and air defense are critical tools for restoring just peace sooner,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently.

Russia’s so-called “glide bombs,” or enormous projectiles fitted with wings and crude guidance systems, have wrought devastation in Ukraine, for example, wrote Gerald Hughes of Aberystwyth University in the Conversation. Planes outside the range of Ukrainian air defense drop the bombs, which then glide for miles before hitting their targets.

In an interview with CNN, a Ukrainian artillery reconnaissance commander was more blunt. “To win, we need ammunition… our artillery is starving,” he said.

Still, Ukraine is doing what it can. It’s reaching farther into Russia to strike targets, hoping to make ordinary Russians feel the war more closely, wrote CNN. For example, one recent attack saw dozens of long-range strike drones target energy infrastructure in eight regions of Russia, including Moscow.

At the same time, Ukraine is addressing its manpower issues in the military: Earlier this month, for example, the president signed a controversial bill lowering the draft age to 25 among other mobilization measures, Le Monde reported.

Because of all this, the passage of legislation this month in the US Congress that appropriates almost $61 billion for Ukraine in military aid and other assistance is a potential game-changer in the war, say analysts. Ukraine will now be able to fight for the remainder of the year, King’s College London Visiting Professor in War Studies Michael Clarke told the Associated Press.

After signing the bill, President Joe Biden said the Pentagon would immediately be sending Ukraine $1 billion in equipment, including surface-to-air missiles, 155-millimeter shells, anti-tank guided missiles, and cluster munitions, reported the New York Times.

The aid package also includes ATACM-300 long-range missiles, wrote Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. These weapons can hit Crimea, Donbas and other Russian-held positions, destroying the invader’s logistics, supply hubs, and command centers.

Analysts who spoke to Times Radio argued that the US aid package was a major defeat for Putin. These efforts, moreover, coincide with stronger European action opposing Russian aggression.

The Czech Republic is leading a campaign with a host of European and other nations to find and purchase artillery shells for Ukraine, according to Radio Free Europe. France has raised the prospect of sending troops to Ukraine, noted Foreign Affairs. Though Germany has ruled that out, added World Politics Review, it provides aid and training for Ukraine’s military and recently stationed troops in Lithuania, its first long-term military deployment since World War II.

Still, Russia’s military-industrial complex is more formidable than many experts initially thought, reported the Guardian, and able to replace the vast amounts of military equipment and munitions the country has lost. Putin has also concluded that Russians have accepted the staggering losses that the Russian military has suffered, which some estimates put as high as 450,000 troops killed or wounded, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation wrote.

Now, another year without a decisive victory for Russia is likely even as most analysts and officials aren’t really talking about victory for Ukraine anymore. Instead, the discussion focuses on how long the besieged country can remain in the ring.

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