Nine months into the war triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Kyiv troops have delivered a series of major defeats to Moscow.
These victories have forced Russian soldiers to first retreat from the area near the capital and then to withdraw from the western region of Kherson.
But after a muddy season which made fighting a difficult slog, and with winter threatening to further slow down Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the war does not seem like it will be ending soon.
And yet Ukraine has the troops and the will to push Russian forces out of its territory and win, says Frank Ledwidge, a British former military officer and author. However, Ukraine, he adds, lacks the military hardware to succeed.
Newsweek asked the military expert, who served in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, what weapons Ukraine would need to defeat the Russians and end the war quickly.
Tanks and Heavy Armored Vehicles
Ledwidge is adamant that arming Ukraine with additional tanks and armored vehicles would help the country’s forces defeat Russia in its territory.
“Ukraine’s always told us that they believe that they can defeat Russia by expelling them from the remaining land that they occupy using mechanized brigades, which means large numbers of soldiers with what’s called armored mobility [armored vehicles or personal carriers] and tanks,” Ledwidge said.
Armored vehicles and tanks “have to go together” in a combined operation, Ledwidge explained, “otherwise you’re going to get in the same trouble that the Russians got into with their tanks.” Russian tanks were operating on their own near Kyiv earlier in the war, which made them extremely vulnerable to being targeted by the Ukrainian infantry.
This strategy resulted in a high number of casualties for Russian troops in the beginning of the war, as well as the destruction of a large portion of the tanks Moscow had deployed in Ukraine.
In September, Ukraine’s General Valerii Zaluzhny said they wanted between 10 and 20 brigades, each of which is composed by about 5,000 soldiers and which would need, according to the military expert, on average 100 tanks.
“So you’re looking about 1,000 tanks, maybe less, plus the vehicles to put the soldiers in, the armored mobility,” Ledwidge said.
Ukraine has “quite a large tank fleet” already, said Ledwidge, with some 2,000 tanks. “It’s got actually more than it had at the start of the war. And that’s possibly enough to do the job,” he added. “And so the Ukrainians are very familiar with the tanks they’ve got and they’ll be able to use them well, defeat Russian tanks, probably, but that will take quite considerable casualties.”
The additional tanks helping Ukraine to recapture the occupied parts of its territory should come from the U.S., Ledwidge believes.
The U.S. has thousands of tanks in reserve that are well-maintained and ready to go, said Ledwidge, while “Europe’s cupboard is empty now.” These American tanks in storage are “war winners,” he added.
The military expert said that the more than 3,000 M1 Abrams tanks that the U.S. has in reserve storage are “a generation ahead” of most of the equipment Russia has and “would annihilate any Russian unit much as they did the Iraqi ones in the past.”
Another armored vehicle that would help Ukraine defeat Russia is the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, designed to transport infantry while providing covering fire against enemy troops and armored vehicles. These vehicles, of which the U.S. has “thousands” in reserve storage, are “much better than anything the Russians have,” said Ledwidge.
“This equipment, if it’s delivered [to Ukraine], would be delivered way into next year—there’s a lot of hoops to jump through in terms of training, maintenance, logistics and repair—and will take a long time to sort out, and it’ll be a long war,” he added.
“It’ll be much shorter if the Ukrainians have the equipment to win it, as opposed to fight it for a long time.”
Other weapons the Ukrainians have asked for are long-range rocket systems like Army Tactical Missile System missiles, or ATACMS. “That will allow the Ukrainians to hit Crimea and basically get the Russian navy— much of its forces—out of Crimea since they’ll be under attack all the time or at least under threat of attack all the time,” said Ledwidge.
Much of the military aid received by Kyiv in the past nine months has focused on ground forces and air defense, but more support to Ukraine’s air force will be necessary for the country to defeat the Russians, Ledwidge said.
“It’s inevitable that the Ukrainian airforce will have to be rearmed. It will have to be rearmed by Western aircraft,” said Ledwidge, adding that Kyiv will have essentially two choices: the U.S. F-16 fighter or Sweden’s Saab Gripen.
These combat planes could make the difference between the war ending or the conflict dragging on further.
“The first point is to re-equip the Ukrainian forces to win the war, for which they need those three essential capabilities: armored mobility, long-range rockets and air power,” said Ledwidge. “The second thing is that if we want Ukraine to be secure in the future, then we need to arm and equip them like a NATO power, so that they are interoperable, and they won’t have the same terrible problems of logistics and resupply the next time this happens—and that doesn’t mean that’ll be a next time, as this is much more likely to deter a second attempt [of invasion] from Russia.”
Newsweek has contacted the Pentagon and Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense for comment.
“Newsweek has contacted the Pentagon and Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense for comment.”
Why ask for a comment? Ukraine’s been asking and Biden, the moldy old flea bag, has been refusing.
It’s what the defenders have been asking for, for at least 6 months.
Who the fuck has been telling Biden to block this, or has the old boy himself made this tragic decision and why?
I don’t know. But, if it’s Biden’s decision, then he’s a moron and weak. If he listens to someone else, then he’s a moron and weak.
Biden is in his natural habitat. He’s normally a moron and weak. He always has been.