Translated from Ukrainian via Google
Delays in providing Ukraine with Western long-range fire systems, advanced air defense systems and tanks have limited the ability of the Defense Forces to seize opportunities for larger counter -offensives . Although for them there were all the prerequisites , represented by the failures of the enemy troops of the Russian Federation at the front.
This caused the fighting to escalate into trench warfare , allowing the occupiers to regain the initiative if they wanted to and raise the bar for future Ukrainian offensives. This was pointed out by analysts from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), stating that the scheme for delivering Western aid to Kiev greatly influenced the course of the war .
“Discussions in the West of alleged stalemate conditions and the difficulty or impossibility of returning to Ukraine much of the territory captured by Russia in 2022 do not explain enough how the West’s delays in providing necessary military equipment exacerbated these problems . Slow resolution and the arrival of aid were not the only factors limiting the ability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to continue large-scale counter-offensive operations. Factors inherent in Ukrainian military and political decisions also contributed to delaying counter-offensives,” the January 29 summary reads.
On the 340th day of the war, ISW noted that they were not ready to admit that all Ukrainian military decisions were optimal. But as historians, they have not observed the impeccable adoption of such in any war. However, analysts believe that the West ‘s wartime hesitancy about arms deliveries did not sufficiently account for the predictable demand to move Ukraine from Soviet systems to Western systems once partners committed to helping Kiev repel a Russian troop invasion in 2022.
Experts acknowledged that the military assistance provided by the US-led Western coalition was essential to Ukraine’s survival . Western military consultations ahead of the February 24 invasion helped the Ukrainian military counter the initial Russian invasion. Weapons systems, such as Javelin anti-tank missiles, helped beat back this onslaught and push back the occupiers’ advance on Kyiv to their starting points.
In addition, the provision by members of the Western coalition of the main weapons systems and ammunition of the Soviet era supported the Armed Forces of Ukraine throughout the war. The delivery of more advanced systems, such as US-made 155mm artillery (in April) and then HIMARS (in June), facilitated Ukrainian counter-offensives that liberated much of the Kharkiv region and then the western part of the Kherson region. And the arrival of NASAMS air defense systems in November helped stop a Russian drone and missile campaign attacking Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.
“The war has unfolded so far in three main periods. The Russians owned the initiative and attacked from February 24 to July 3, 2022 , after which their attacks culminated . The Ukrainians seized the initiative and launched large-scale counter-offensives in August, which ended with the liberation of the western part of the Kherson region November 11. Since then, Ukraine has not been able to launch a new major counter-offensive , which allowed the conflict to turn into a positional war, allowing the Russians to regain the initiative if they choose to, and raise the bar for future Ukrainian counter-offensives even if they don’t. The scheme for delivering Western aid has greatly influenced the course of this conflict,” the ISW said.
They believe that the West’s reluctance to begin deliveries to Ukraine of more advanced Western weapons systems, especially tanks, long-range strike systems and air defense systems, ” limited the ability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to initiate and continue large-scale counteroffensives . “
Military experts recalled that a competent scheme of a counter-offensive campaign provides for the speedy cessation of the enemy’s offensive and the rapid launch of decisive counterattacks in order to take advantage of the enemy’s disorganization and unpreparedness for subsequent major operations. And then continuing counter-offensives with as short a pause as possible between them to prevent the enemy from regrouping his forces and perhaps regaining the initiative.
Many factors contribute to most of the armed forces falling short of this ideal standard, and the Ukrainian military has also faced many internal challenges to do so.
“However, arms and supplies are always central to planning and executing credible campaigns. Ukraine did not have a serious defense industry before entering the war and was therefore almost entirely dependent on its Western backers to provide the equipment it needed to stop the initial Russian advance. and then, even more so, to initiate and sustain counteroffensives. Thus, Western aid models have greatly influenced Ukraine’s ability to develop and execute sound campaign plans ,” analysts are convinced.
They noted that the Russian invasion began on February 24 last year, and the only major phase of the offensive operations of the RF Armed Forces continued with the capture of Lysichansk on July 3 . Then they reached a climax, and in July the Kremlin lost the initiative in battle altogether
“Indications that the Russian offensive was culminating and that Western weapons would be needed on a large scale were clear at the end of May and June… If the West’s goal were to shorten the war by hastening Ukraine’s liberation of occupied territory, the assessment that stockpiles of weapons Soviet-era stocks held by friendly states are running out, should have triggered a fundamental change in the provision of Western aid starting in June 2022 , ” analysts pointed out the West’s mistake.
In their opinion, the partners should have started creating the conditions for Ukraine to switch to the use of Western weapons, including tanks, artillery and aircraft, by the beginning of the summer of 2022 and before the predicted culmination of Russian offensive operations .
“If the West had started supplying Ukraine with the equipment needed for long-term counter-offensive operations when the Russian offensives were culminating, Ukraine could have started these counter-offensive operations earlier . If the West had begun work on fully transitioning Ukraine to Western systems when the need for this became apparent in the summer 2022, it would be possible to create conditions allowing Ukraine to continue counter-offensive operations after Kherson and thereby deprive the Russians of the opportunity to regroup their forces and try to regain the initiative ,” the Institute for the Study of War said.
They believe that the West’s delays in providing Ukraine with the material resources necessary for this, on the contrary, “had an avalanche-like impact on the ability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to conduct and support counter-offensives . ” In the meantime, the occupying Russian forces took advantage of these delays to “close the windows of vulnerability” caused by their own defeats and incompetence, mobilizing manpower and equipment and beginning to rationalize their forces. So they resumed the offensive on Bakhmut.
“Continuous delays in the delivery of Western military equipment, when it became obvious that it was needed or soon needed, contributed to the prolongation of the conflict. Of course, they are not the only reason for such a delay, but the West must recognize the contribution that these delays have made to limiting Ukraine’s ability to quickly liberate most of their territory,” the ISW stressed.
Analysts say the West’s recent commitments to provide Ukraine with the tanks and armored personnel carriers it needs for further counter-offensives are important , but delays in meeting those commitments could cost the Ukrainian Armed Forces the opportunity for a counter-offensive this winter . Russian forces are likely preparing to launch their own offensive in the Lugansk region and are stepping up operations in the Bakhmut area.
It is believed that if Ukraine does not yet have the hardware needed to launch a counter-offensive, then it may have to wait many weeks for Western tanks to arrive in sufficient numbers to support renewed efforts. The delay is likely to be extended due to weather conditions . Both Russians and Ukrainians will have to factor in the spring thaw season, which is likely to occur in March and April, making it difficult, if not impossible, for a quick mechanized counteroffensive.
” Ukraine may have to wait until late spring or early summer before resuming its large-scale efforts to liberate strategically important territory. Current Russian offensives may well lead to greater success before then. The West will need to avoid the erroneous conclusion that future Ukrainian counter-offensives are not possible given the time frame due to its own delays in providing the necessary materiel and meteorological conditions… ISW continues to believe that Ukraine can liberate critical territory with the current and promised levels of Western support , and that thisis a matter of vital national interests of Western partners for Ukraine to achieve this,” summed up the Institute for the Study of War.
As OBOZREVATEL reported, the former Commander-in-Chief of NATO Allied Forces in Europe, James Stavridis, is convinced that the transfer of Western battle tanks to Ukraine was an important military step and a turning point in the war . In his opinion, this equipment in the hands of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will cause huge problems for the Russian army.
Retired American Lieutenant General Ben Godges expressed his belief that the outcome of the war could determine Crimea as a decisive battlefield . He is sure that Ukraine “will never be safe” and will not be able to restore its economy if the Russian Federation retains control over the peninsula.
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Painful reading that …. the cost of lives for freedom is unnecessarily higher. I guess we will see what the Bradley’s can do.
The delays by the west have made imperative the very thing they did not want, to go from provision to active participation.