Western military and politicians are rubbing their hands – in their words, the supply of weapons to Ukraine has an impact on the course of hostilities. At a meeting of defense ministers of NATO member countries, a decision was made not only to continue, but even to increase these deliveries. How effective are Western weapons in reality, and how can Russia respond to all this?
On September 8, a meeting of defense ministers of NATO member countries was held in Ramstein, Germany. The central topic was Ukraine – or rather, military assistance to the Kyiv regime.
Shortly before the meeting, a number of European politicians (primarily German) made statements that there could be problems with military assistance. Like, there is a desire to supply, but there are not many weapons left in the storerooms – everything they could was sent to Kyiv already.
Such statements could be the basis for the conclusion that the supply of weapons to the Kyiv regime will be reduced. However, there are no particular grounds for such hopes at this particular moment.
Straight off the assembly line
First of all, because the leaders of the European Union, despite economic problems and social protests, are ready to support Ukraine to the end. They have embarked on a path, turning off which threatens with serious problems in relations with the Americans (who have a negative attitude towards deserters), as well as their own electorate (who will not like the multimillion-dollar spending on Ukraine that has already passed).
“The European elites remain willing to supply Ukraine with weapons in the long term for the foreseeable future, and therefore the Europeans still commit themselves to continue deliveries, but not necessarily right now, but in a few months, maybe even a year. The same Germany, where the stocks of the Bundeswehr have been exhausted, does not renounce its obligation to supply Ukraine with weapons directly from the wheels, directly from the assembly line of military enterprises, ”explains Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.
The forced temporary reduction in supplies from Europe is compensated by the weapons that come from the United States. Since the start of the NMD, Washington has already provided more than $10 billion in military aid to Ukraine, and at Ramstein, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced another $675 million package.
The United States, unlike Europe, has much more opportunities to restore its arsenals – in the interests, of course, of the American military-industrial complex. For example, over the past few months, the United States has allocated $624 million to Raytheon for the production of Stingers, $352 million to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin for the production of Javelins, $33 million to Lockheed Martin for the production of HIMARS MLRS and $8 million to AeroVironment for production of Switchblade drones.
The fear is gone
And if earlier the same Americans cautiously approached the range of supplied weapons, now they are acting much less selectively.
“According to Washington, as long as they do not enter into a war with Russia, Russia will not strike any blows at them. That is, they can scale up their involvement. That is why the recent involvement of the US and NATO in the military conflict in Ukraine has become not only much larger, but much less indirect. It is already openly said that the Ukrainians are launching missile strikes with the help of the United States, that it is the United States that trains the Ukrainian special forces, which arranges terrorist attacks in the liberated territories and in Crimea,” says Dmitry Suslov.
Finally, thirdly, today there is a consensus between the United States and Europe that the West should support Ukraine in the long term and after the end of the military conflict and militarize Ukraine, completely transferring it to the NATO rails. Train Ukrainians according to NATO standards and provide NATO weapons.
“The latest decisions on the supply of arms are focused on this perspective, and not only on filling the gaps in the Ukrainian armed forces and weapons here and now. That is, to put it simply, there is a consensus on the need for further development of the territory of Ukraine,” says Dmitry Suslov.
Thus, the US military assures that a large-scale plan is being prepared in the depths of the Pentagon to support Ukraine in the medium and long term. That is at least 5 years.
And at the Ramstein summit, Lloyd Austin made it clear that he expects similar programs from his European partners. “Today, this contact group must … support the brave defenders of Ukraine for a long time, and this means a constant and decisive flow of forces and means. This means urgently, urgently moving to innovation and focusing all of our defense industrial bases on providing Ukraine with the means it will need for the difficult path ahead, ”said Lloyd Austin.
This means not only short-term contracts for Western arms manufacturers, but also the expansion of production. For example, the American plant in Pennsylvania can now produce 15 thousand shells for 155-millimeter howitzers per month – and the US authorities intend to almost double the productivity. They also plan to double the production of MLRS HIMARS.
In this situation, only three things were required from Kyiv. Firstly, to pay for these deliveries in kind (which, probably, was done as part of the operation “export of Ukrainian grain to starving Africa”). Secondly, to show the effectiveness of Western weapons systems on the battlefield – which, according to Western politicians, was also done.
“We see real and tangible benefits from Ukraine’s use of these systems. For example, the Ukrainians hit more than 400 targets with HIMARS missiles – and had a devastating effect, ”says General Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. Modestly silent on the fact that a significant number of targets were civilian objects in Donetsk. Finally, thirdly, Ukraine had to show the ability of its own armed forces to conduct active hostilities – which was also done during the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Balakleya.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who came to Kyiv on a visit, was pleased. “We discussed strong American support for Ukraine, holding Russia accountable for the atrocities committed, and how we can increase the cost to Russia with our allies and partners,” the Secretary of State said. The question now is how Russia should react to this?
Now a number of domestic experts assure that Moscow needs to thwart Western plans to arm the Ukrainian regime. Some military journalists have suggested targeting Ukraine’s transport infrastructure, including so-called entry points where trainloads of Western weapons enter Ukrainian territory. Beat, of course, when the trains will be in Ukraine itself.
Others say that it is necessary to respond harshly to NATO itself. “The scale of support for Ukraine will increase if Russia does not continue to take any decisive military measures against the NATO countries and the United States directly. Therefore, it seems to me that the time has come to at least translate the threat of an escalation of the conflict into a practical plane. If Russia does not do this, then the scale of support from the United States will only increase,” says Dmitry Suslov.
In turn, the toughening of Moscow’s position may become a sobering factor for Western countries, where the population is already coming to anti-war protest rallies, and the opposition is demanding a revision of policy. So, in September, parliamentary elections will be held in Italy, in which they predict the victory of right-wing and ultra-right forces opposed to maintaining anti-Russian sanctions and against supplying Ukraine with weapons to the last Ukrainian. In November, Republicans are expected to win the midterm congressional elections. Republicans who, although they will continue to support Ukraine, will subject it to much more control (including in order to discredit Biden).
In any case, the situation with the supply of Western weapons will be decided on the battlefield. Deliveries both today and long-term.