The US push to send artillery to Ukraine it aims to degrade Russian forces, not just on the current battlefield but in the long term, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and military experts.
The United States, France, the Czech Republic and other allies are sending dozens of long-range howitzers to help Ukraine stem an escalating offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
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Backed by better air defense, attack drones and Western intelligence, the allies hope that kyiv will be able to destroy a huge amount of Russian weapons power in the coming confrontation.
After returning to kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian defense chiefs and President Volodymyr ZelenskyAustin told reporters in Poland early Monday that Washington’s expectations were higher.
Russia “He has already lost a lot of military capacity and a lot of his troops, to be blunt. And we want to see them not being able to quickly replicate that capability.” Austin said.
“We want to see Russia weakened to the point where it can’t do the kind of things it has done by invading Ukraine.”
‘War of Attrition’
This is a change from Washington’s initial approach, when it simply hoped to help prevent Moscow’s takeover of the Ukrainian capital and the overthrow of the government of Zelensky.
Indeed, aided by anti-aircraft and anti-armor missiles provided by the United States and European allies, Ukrainian troops forced the Russian military to withdraw from northern Ukraine within six weeks of the February 24 invasion.
However, Moscow now controls swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine, apparently aiming to expand into the country’s center by sending more troops and equipment there.
His plan, experts believe, is to use long-range bombardment to push back most of Ukraine’s forces, then send in troops and tanks to secure the territory.
Ukraine’s best option is to respond with superior artillery, backed up by air strikes, to destroy Russian strength, according to Mike Jacobson, a US civilian field artillery expert.
Jacobson predicted that this will lead to a “war of attrition” in which Ukraine, with allied-supplied equipment that has greater range and accuracy, could stop the Russians.
“I think superior artillery will undermine the ability of the Russians to sustain this fight,” Jacobson told AFP.
Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews, wrote that the coming artillery war will be reminiscent of World War I, where each side tried to defeat the other with debilitating bombardment.
the army of russia “It is considerably smaller and suffered more equipment loss. Ukraine’s army is smaller, but it is about to become much better armed.”said.
“Russia needs to change that dynamic or it will lose the war of attrition.”
The United States and allies are moving fast with supplies to take advantage of the slow regrouping of Russian forces following their withdrawal from northern Ukraine.
At least 18 of the 90 towed artillery pieces promised by Washington in the past two weeks have already been sent to Ukraine, with more to be dispatched soon this week, according to a Pentagon official.
Washington is also delivering nearly 200,000 rounds of howitzer ammunition and is preparing ammunition for Russian-made artillery operated by Ukrainian forces.
Some 50 Ukrainian troops have already received training in the use of US howitzers and more will be trained this week.
Meanwhile, France is sending its ultra-advanced mobile howitzer, Caesar, and the Czech Republic its older self-propelled howitzers.
Canada is also sending shells and shells”Excalibur”, advanced and guided, capable of traveling more than 40 kilometers and accurately hitting the target.
“The combat in Donbass will largely depend on what we call long-range fire, in particular artillery”said a senior US defense official.
“That is why we are focusing on getting them artillery and tactical unmanned aerial vehicles”said the official.
It refers to the “suicide drones” Allied-supplied, bomb-armed unmanned aerial vehicles that can be directed for hours to seek out and then explode on Russian targets.
However, no one claims that such a strategy will allow Ukraine to expel the Russians.
If kyiv prevails in artillery combat, “it will eventually force them (the Russians) to realistically escalate or negotiateJacobson concluded.
“Russia will be frustrated, but not defeated.”