As you read the article below, know if we don’t provide Ukraine with the ammunition it needs, we will need much more ammunition in the future for our soldiers when Putin crosses NATO borders.
Pulling Ukrainians out of battle to train them could accelerate Russia’s gains, officials say.
The Pentagon is also monitoring the levels of its own stockpiles.
By Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes | July 12, 2022 Updated 9:18 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON — The Ukrainians say they need faster shipments of long-range artillery and other sophisticated weapons to blunt Russia’s steady advance. The United States and the Europeans insist more are on the way but are wary of sending too much equipment before Ukrainian soldiers can be trained. The Pentagon is concerned about potentially depleting its stockpiles in the coming months. [One would think “officials” would have learned to keep quiet. Washington worried the Ukrainians wouldn’t learn how to use the too-long delayed in delivering Javelins. I doubt the Russian tank columns that tried to advance to Kyiv thought the Ukrainians couldn’t figure out how to use them. As for depleting stockpiles: had Washington ever actually committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty – think Budapest Memorandum - the stockpile issue would have been obvious and addressed starting in 2014. RAM]
The Biden administration and its allies are struggling to balance their priorities against Kyiv’s demands as Russian forces intensify their bombardment of cities and villages across eastern Ukraine, according to American and other Western diplomats, military officials and lawmakers. [More like hesitant to lead and act like the superpower we once were. Fear of Putin’s reactions have controlled Washington’s thinking. Jake – the United States can dictate the future! RAM]
U.S. officials say Ukraine could mount a counterattack and claw back some — though not all — of the territory it has lost if it can continue to exact a bloody toll on Russia until new weapons can flow in from the West. But some officials are concerned that pulling too many Ukrainian artillery specialists off the front lines for weeks of training on the new weapons could weaken Ukrainian defenses, accelerate Russian gains and make any future counterattacks more difficult to carry out. [Again, when will these “officials” learn not to comment? We keep worrying about training the Ukrainians and with every new system provided they learn faster than predicted and use the weapons effectively. Time and time again our military reports that not only do the Ukrainians use the weapons effectively but they figure out ways to use our weapons in ways we didn’t know they could be used. Hello! Ukraine has a highly motivated and sophisticated population. It is long past time for our analysts to stop underestimating Ukraine. RAM]
“There are no good choices in a situation like this,” said Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee. “You have to take your best artillery officers and enlisted personnel and send them back for a week or two of training. But in the long run, I think that’s probably the smarter move.” [The Senator is on the right track – “the smarter move” – but the Ukrainians keep proving the training time is overestimated by Washington. RAM]
In addition, Pentagon officials have expressed concerns about hurting U.S. combat readiness if the war continues for months or longer. After two decades of mostly supporting counterterrorism missions, America’s defense industry largely stopped making the kinds of weapons Ukraine will need to survive a long war of attrition. The United States has authorized $54 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and has sent more than $7 billion in weapons drawn from existing Pentagon stockpiles. [You can only arrive at the $54 billion by accepting numbers designed to convince the world of Washington’s commitment. The actual numbers for what goes to Ukraine are substantial but far less. As for America’s readiness for this war refer back to above – a genuine commitment to Ukraine and the assurances of the Budapest Memorandum would have had us mobilize starting in 2014. And, as for “a long war of attrition” if our policy was to provide the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time Ukraine would have been winning this war months ago. Our drip-drip-drip approach to supplying Ukraine is pathetic. RAM]
Ukraine’s urgent requests come at a time when the United States appears to have reached the high end of the type of sophisticated arms it is providing. The next shipments are to include truck-mounted, multiple-rocket launchers called HIMARS, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and precision-guided Excalibur howitzer shells. But the fighter jets and advanced armed drones on Ukraine’s wish list have been shelved for now as either overly provocative to Moscow or too time-consuming for the Ukrainians to learn how to use. [Ah yes, the super power that lets Putin control the escalation/provocation narrative! Putin started the war and blusters like the playground bully and will only be stopped the way all bullies are stopped – by defeating him. Note that some eastern European countries had grown tired of Washington hesitant lead – MiG-29s are now being delivered to Ukraine despite Washington’s wringing of hands. RAM]
The nearly five-month war is at a critical moment, U.S. officials and others familiar with the intelligence assessments say. As many as 100 to 200 Ukrainian soldiers have died every day since Russia shifted its military campaign in the spring to focus on eastern Ukraine. But overall, about 20,000 Russians have been killed. Injuries have taken about 60,000 more off the battlefield. Nearly a third of Russia’s equipment has been destroyed in the war, according to Western officials, including several who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. [And let's not mention the methodical slaughter of civilians – women and children. That would but in clear public focus the atrocities we have not committed to stopping. RAM]
To replenish its military, Russia would have to mobilize more of its population, by making a declaration of war — officially the conflict remains a “special military operation” — or by moving troops and equipment from Russia’s Far North or Far East to Ukraine.
That President Vladimir V. Putin has been reluctant to undertake either move is a sign that he believes time is on his side, officials say. Instead, the Kremlin is trying to fill its manpower shortfall with a motley mix of Ukrainians from the separatist territories, mercenaries and militarized National Guard units, and by promising large cash bonuses for volunteers. [There is the tired and worn out reference to “separatists” I have criticized so many times – overused and misleading. RAM]
Mr. Putin might also think that Western support for Ukraine will soon reach its limit as Americans and Europeans grow more anxious about energy prices, which have spiked since the war began.
One sign of Mr. Putin’s current approach, according to people briefed on the assessments of the campaign, is that the Kremlin is no longer pressing for quick battlefield gains as it did in the early push to seize Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Mr. Putin has reshuffled his top battlefield commanders in Ukraine once again in recent weeks, and American officials say the Russians have switched to slow, grinding tactics that the Kremlin appears content to let play out. [The Kremlin has an unchallenged history of disregarding human life – “the death of millions is just a statistic”. What Washington must see and grasp is the scorched earth genocide in Putin’s approach. Something Washington and the West must not accept or they too devalue human life itself. RAM]
The Russian military has relied heavily on its immense advantage in long-range artillery in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, pounding Ukrainian soldiers — as well as cities and towns — from a distance, before trying to move in.
In recent days, some Russian forces have reportedly taken a strategic pause, according to an assessment by the Institute for the Study of War, while others have started shelling towns in Donetsk, a territory in the Donbas.
Many of these Russian troops are slowing to rearm and reorganize after the brutal artillery duels in the Luhansk portion of the Donbas, while the Kremlin scrambles to fill its manpower shortages to continue the war.
“The Russians are literally scraping the bottom of the barrel for troops and replacement equipment,” said Frederick B. Hodges, a former top U.S. Army commander in Europe who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis.
American officials say it will be difficult for Ukraine to mount a counteroffensive in the near term, but that it still has advantages. Throughout the war, the fight has largely favored the defenders, who can inflict heavy casualties from well-protected positions. The Ukrainians have used modern American and European-designed weaponry, including the HIMARS and anti-tank missiles like Javelins and NLAWs, with deadly effectiveness against the Russians. But Russia’s superior firepower has allowed its battered forces to inch forward. [Good grief! How can one mention the HIMARS without reporting the embarrassing story behind them? While experts like the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network had been calling for the delivery of such weapons since last December, Washington worried about escalation. Then very recently, although Ukraine and others have been pressing for a significant number of HIMARS, Washington announced it would give Ukraine 4 HIMARS because Washington said the Ukrainians would need weeks to be trained how to use them and, if they proved capable, we would consider sending more. Well, the Ukrainians learned fast, got them into position and have used the HIMARS with devastating success. But we did not provide enough ammunition to keep up with the need. I do acknowledge that later in this article it is reported there are 8 HIMARS in Ukraine. Maybe so but as far as I know it is the first time “8” has been mentioned anywhere. And, reports from sources suggest it could be up to four months before we deliver more HIMARS! HIMARS are capable of changing the face of this war and it will take us how long? Where is the planning? Where is the strategic thinking? Ukraine is fighting a war for itself and us. If Ukraine does not win we will soon be having to commit far greater sums of money and American lives to defend against Putin’s move into NATO countries. RAM]
Key to Ukrainian survival and the further slowing of the Russian advance will be additional Western training and hardware.
The first group of Ukrainian soldiers arrived in Britain last week to attend a new program that officials there say will ultimately train as many as 10,000 Ukrainian recruits in weaponry, patrol tactics, first aid and other skills, Britain’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, recently said.
“The U.K.’s response to evolving Ukrainian requirements considers both the equipment needed to mount and maintain an effective response to Russian aggression and the training required to use the respective capability,” said Air Vice Marshal Mick Smeath, the British defense attaché in Washington.
American intelligence agencies have struggled to assess how quickly Ukrainian forces can absorb and employ sophisticated U.S. equipment. The HIMARS — for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — are the centerpiece of a raft of new Western long-range weapons that the Ukrainian military is switching over to as its arsenal of Soviet-era howitzer and rocket ammunition dwindles.
The truck-mounted, multiple-rocket launchers fire satellite-guided rockets that have a range of more than 40 miles, greater than anything Ukraine had possessed. The first two batches are destroying Russian ammunition depots, air defenses and command posts deep behind the front lines, American and Ukrainian officials said. [Remember, readers, we limited the range of the artillery because we didn’t want Ukraine to fire inside Russia. Worse we announced publicly the range of the artillery we were providing – hello, Russia, please note the limitations on Ukraine. Really, is this the way rationale people fight a war? RAM]
“HIMARS have already made a HUUUGE difference on the battlefield,” Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said in a Twitter message over the weekend.
The White House said on Friday that it would send four more HIMARS from Pentagon stocks, joining the eight already on the ground in Ukraine with their American-trained crews of about 100 Ukrainian soldiers. Administration officials privately indicate that more will be sent. Britain and Germany have each pledged to supply three similar launchers. [This paragraph does not match what we are told from “inside”. RAM]
Ukrainian officials, however, say they need as many as 300 multiple-rocket launchers to combat Russia, and some former Pentagon officials say at least 60 to 100 of the launchers are needed to disrupt the Russian offensive.
A report released last week by the Royal United Services Institute, a research organization in London, warned that the well-intentioned delivery of various artillery systems to Ukraine was creating unforeseen consequences.
“The current approach by which each country donates a battery of guns in a piecemeal way is rapidly turning into a logistical nightmare for Ukrainian forces, with each battery requiring a separate training, maintenance and logistics pipeline,” the report said.
The report’s authors, Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, also concluded that Ukraine needs electronic warfare equipment, like jamming devices, to combat advanced Russian systems. Ukrainian surveillance drones, which help target Russian troops, survive only about a week before Russian defenses force them to crash or shoot them down, the report said. [I have to note the Friends of Ukraine Network has been pushing for all of this for more than a year and some for years! RAM]
“Ukraine has the will to achieve the operational defeat of the Russian military,” the report said. “At present, however, several Russian advantages and Ukrainian weaknesses are leading to an attritional conflict that risks a protracted war, eventually favoring Russia.”
John Ismay contributed reporting.
Eric Schmitt is a senior writer who has traveled the world covering terrorism and national security. He was also the Pentagon correspondent. A member of the Times staff since 1983, he has shared four Pulitzer Prizes. @EricSchmittNYT
Julian E. Barnes is a national security reporter based in Washington, covering the intelligence agencies. Before joining The Times in 2018, he wrote about security matters for The Wall Street Journal. @julianbarnes • Facebook
The introductory comments and the parenthetical within the presented article are Mr. McConnell’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network.
Coordinator, External Relations
U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network
Robert A. McConnell is a co-founder of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Coordinator of External Relations for the Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network. He is Principal of R.A. McConnell and Associates. Previously, he has served as head of the Government Advocacy Practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Vice President – Washington for CBS, Inc, and Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration. email@example.com