- The forces of authoritarianism are increasingly united in aggression against democracy. The russian army, struck by the Defense Forces of Ukraine, is suffering more and more losses in Ukraine. But russia is not going to give up aggression. Moreover, it attracts new forces, namely the so-called partial mobilization should provide additional “cannon fodder”. At the same time, the West still has illusions that russia will stop if Ukraine inflicts unacceptable losses in manpower and equipment.
- The understanding of “unacceptable losses” does not exist for the russian Federation. The main principles that guide the Kremlin and Putin personally are “price is not the issue,” “the war will write off everything,” “women will give birth to new ones” (principles of the Soviet marshal-butcher Georgiy Zhukov, the State award in whose name Putin has increased 10 times this year, namely up to ~$50.000). The mobilization plan is 1 million people as of March 1, 2023, and according to some information from Moscow, the mobilization will not stop there. Putin’s strategy is based on the strategy of the “Marshal of the Victory” Zhukov, namely, to pelt the enemy with corpses, if all else fails.
- russia compensates for losses in equipment, not only with old tanks and equipment from the arsenals of the USSR. It receives aid from other countries. Iranian drones are already used against the Armed Forces of Ukraine and for strikes on civilian infrastructure. russia is waiting for Iranian ballistic missiles, which in terms of accuracy and combat load are superior to the russian OTMS Iskander-M with the ballistic missile 9M723. Fateh-140 has a range of destruction up to 300 km, which is less than Iskander’s (500 km), but the weight of the warhead is much greater, namely 650 kg compared to 480 kg of 9M723, the deviation when hitting the target is stated to be 3 meters compared to 5-7 meters of the russian missile.
- At the same time, the USA continues to have pointless discussions for several months whether to provide ATACMS to Ukraine or not. Despite the high accuracy of MGM-140A ATACMS Block 1 and the weight of the warhead of 560 kg, it flies only 165 km. Moreover, the warhead of this modification is the cluster one. And MGM-168A ATACMS Block 1A(QRU) with a 300 km destruction range, high-explosive warhead WDU-18/B weighs only 227 kg.
- In the coming months, russia will destroy in a combined way, namely with cruise and ballistic missiles and attack drones, both our military and civilian critical infrastructure. First of all, energy, transport, and communication. The effectiveness of such actions was demonstrated by Iran in Saudi Arabia, where it strikes the Kingdom’s oil infrastructure with the help of its proxies from Yemen. russia’s aim in Ukraine for the autumn-winter period is to create energy collapse, immobilize railway transport with electric traction, deprive reliable communication, cause panic and despair of society, cut off Western aid due to the destruction of transport hubs, and then repeat attack on Ukraine from all directions with new “live waves” of mobilized. Marshal Zhukov’s Berlin operation is probably an example for Putin. According to some sources, on October 16, Putin demands from his troops to prepare the new invasion of Kyiv and Kharkiv.
- Ukraine is still deprived of the opportunity to quickly obtain a sufficient number of anti-aircraft defense, and to obtain sufficiently long-range means of destroying the enemy’s territory. The Kremlin knows perfectly well that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have nothing that can cause them trouble deeper than one hundred kilometers deep into the territory of the russian Federation. If we are talking realistically from the point of view of strategy of deterring the enemy, then we already need land-based BGM-109G medium-range missiles of the Tomahawk type, which the USA used to have once or something similar. Without helping Ukraine create a projection of the threat of the destruction of russia’s critical infrastructure with strikes deep into its territory, we will observe slow shooting of Ukraine by russia to the accompaniment of American discussions about whether to provide ATACMS.
- Taiwan has medium-range missiles Yun Feng (Cloud Peak). This is a supersonic cruise missile of the “ground-to-ground” class. The range is 1,200-2,000 kilometers (depending on the modification). It is one of few tools in Taiwan’s arsenal that can reach targets in the north and center of mainland China. When Taiwan armed with Yun Feng, it sent clear message to Beijing that the war would not be limited to the island and surrounding waters. Missile weapons would allow Taiwan to inflict damage on China, both by striking military targets and critical infrastructure on the mainland. The missile’s flight range makes it possible to strike the largest cities of the PRC, in particular, Beijing and Shanghai, namely to immediately transfer the war to the territory of the aggressor.
- This is what the USA limited Ukraine in, because they are guided by inadequate logic of “not to provoke Putin.” If we extrapolate Taiwan’s ability to defeat the enemy with Yun Feng missile, then this is equivalent to the presence of medium-range missiles of <4500 km, which would be capable of hitting targets in Yamal, Ural, Altai regions. That means covering all main existing critical energy and military infrastructure of the russian Federation.
- The example of South Korea is also indicative. As of May 21, 2021, the United States approved lifting of 42-year-old restriction on the missile development program of South Korea. The leaders of South Korea and the United States announced the end of restrictions imposed on Seoul in 1979. Given the growing threat from North Korea, the American approach has been reconsidered four times. The consideration in 1997 allowed Seoul to develop a short-range ballistic missile with a 500-kilogram warhead with a maximum range of 300 km. In 2012, another consideration was made, which increased the range of the ballistic missile to 800 km with a 500-kilogram warhead. In 2017, Seoul and Washington agreed to cancel the warhead weight limit, and there was another consideration in 2020 to allow the development of solid-fuel space rockets, which are equivalent to the possibility of creating long-range missiles.
- Ukraine is deprived of such opportunities. The USA and the West are afraid to take the side of Ukraine, even acting outside the norm and not getting involved in the war on the country’s territory. But Iran is not afraid. It is possible that the supply of attack drones and ballistic missiles was not based on some solidarity of the regime in Tehran with the Kremlin but on the basis of reciprocity. We do not exclude the fact that russia provided Iran with weapons-grade uranium for the production of nuclear warheads in exchange for the supply of Iranian drones and missiles to the russian Federation for ammunition replenishment. The principle “price is not an issue” is working.
- Ukraine needs not only additional weapons. We are grateful to the USA for provided resources, but forces of global Mordor (authoritarianism and evil) are consolidating faster than forces of democracy and light. Additional actions are needed from the USA and NATO. NATO training on nuclear deterrence is good, but it will stop russia from shooting Ukraine. In response, they will conduct their training.
- Ukraine and Europe as a whole need non-standard action by the USA and Great Britain. Clear position on preventive actions is needed. General Ben Godges made a speech about the fact that in case of the use of nuclear warheads, the USA could respond with non-nuclear strikes in return, and destroy the Black Sea Fleet, for instance. This works for russia. It lost its fleet on the Black Sea twice, namely during the Crimean War in the 19th century and during World War II in the 20th century. And it did not have fatal consequences.
- We need preventive action by the USA to attack the carrier ships with cruise missiles, which are on board the Black Sea Fleet. This could be presented as a humanitarian mission to clean up the threat to peaceful cities of Ukraine, which are subject to indiscriminate attacks and prevention of Holodomor as part of the genocidal plan of the people of Ukraine. After all, NATO punished Miloshevic’s regime in 1999 for the genocide against the Kosovo Albanians.
- After 8 months of direct russian invasion, Ukraine continues to remain outside the borders of any NATO security umbrella or the nuclear umbrella of the USA and UK. This enables nuclear escalation by russia, which will be the final nail in the coffin of non-proliferation of the nuclear weapons regime. The current American strategy of deterring russia from using nuclear weapons by threatening to use non-nuclear means in response by the US is a failure. It is not a deterrent. russia understands only force, and therefore it is necessary to increase the pressure on the aggressor in all dimensions, without waiting for its use of tactical nuclear weapons. NATO’s nuclear deterrence should begin not at the russian-Polish border, but at the Ukrainian-russian border. Such an approach will not become an escalation, but on the contrary, it will become a deterrent. The world is on the verge of losing the taboo on the use of nuclear weapons, and therefore decisive actions are needed from the leaders of the nuclear powers – the USA and UK.
- It is important to block russia’s Kaliningrad exclave and the russian Naval Base Tartus in Syria with NATO forces. Only real actions by the USA and NATO, not verbal warnings, will have impact on the Kremlin. It is important to destroy, and not just to fight back strategic bombers of the russian Federation from the territory of NATO countries, as those who participate in inhumane bombing of Ukrainian cities. Do something in advance. Change Putin’s rules of the game to your own.
- The European Parliament is going to adopt a resolution on the recognition of the russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism. A number of countries have already done so. The House and the Senate asked the administration to do this even earlier. The administration refused to do this under the false argument that it was necessary to deal with russia on matters of strategic stability. russia is a global destabilizer. It no longer hides the fact that it wants to destroy the existing world order and impose its own on Europe. And it started this destruction in Ukraine, as young European democratic country, on which it was unable to impose its kleptocratic regime neither in 2004 nor in 2014. russia is already conducting open missile, energy, and nuclear terror. What else does the US Administration need to make an obvious decision?
- Sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe against russia undoubtedly undermine its economy, but they do not affect the reduction of russia’s aggressiveness. And sanctions are far from strict. Just one example. Why does russia act with impunity regarding Zaporizhzhya NPP, which is the largest in Europe? And why does it use nuclear blackmail? Because the russian nuclear monopoly Rosatom has not been subject to any sanctions, even though McFaul-Yermak Action Plan lists Rosatom as the company that should be subject to sanctions.
- On November 16, 1933, the USA recognized the USSR with its tyrannical, misanthropic regime of Stalin. And this was at the time when russia launched full-scale genocide, namely the Holodomor in Ukraine. After on September 27, 1933, the representative of the Government of Ukrainian People’s Republic in exile Oleksandr Shulgin addressed the XIV Assembly of the League of Nations with the letter in which attention of the world community was drawn to the famine in Ukraine. Is it true that today, almost 90 years after the Holodomor, to which the USA and Europe closed their eyes, the West will once again repeat the mistake of the 1930s, and give freedom of action to tyrants and revanchists. This ultimately led to World War II.
- russia is resuming the Stalinist practice of deportation in the occupied territories of Ukraine. Under the pretext of evacuating the civilian population from the war zone, citizens of Ukraine are massively and forcibly transported to distant depressed regions of russia.
- The Kremlin’s bet for 2023 is that the balance of power will change in the US after the mid-term congressional elections and the Republicans will block (at least temporarily) further aid to Ukraine. russia plans to persuade Europe to abandon its support for Ukraine or, at least, to drastically reduce it, using the energy lever – by stopping any supply of energy resources to the EU. Having created a pause in support for Ukraine, the Kremlin hopes to achieve a military victory over the Ukrainian Armed Forces. For this purpose, according to information from Moscow sources, an additional million of mobilization reserve has been created from russians who are already prohibited from leaving the territory of the russian Federation under the threat of blocking their bank accounts and cards.
- The aggressor must be punished by joint efforts, otherwise it will not stop. Ukraine is bleeding and weakening despite the help of the West, because it is deprived of opportunity to destroy the russian army and critical military infrastructure, at least in the near zone, namely 1000 km deep into the territory of the russian Federation, the depth of which is ~9000 km from the border with Ukraine. russia, on the other hand, is firing deep into the territory of Ukraine.
- Ukraine needs more weapons. Due to the losses suffered by the Ukrainian army during the war against the russian Federation and the mobilization which led to the expansion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Kyiv used to send “letters of request” both to Washington and to the countries of Western Europe in general. The latest list contains a request for 300 tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 30 self-propelled guns, 250 howitzers of 155-mm caliber, 500 ATGMs, 1,000 MANPADS, 72 short-range air defense systems (in each air defense system there is a command post, radar, several launchers, etc.), 20 AN/TPQ artillery radars of generations -36 and -37 and 40 AN/TPQ-48/49 radars.
The assessment of weapons* that could be provided to equip the brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine looks like this:
- M1A1/2 tanks. The US Army has 2,645 tanks (650 M1A1 SA, 1,605 M1A2 SEPv2, and 390 M1A2 SEPv3) and 3,450 M1A1/2 in storage.
- M2A2/3 infantry fighting vehicle. The US Army has 2,931 IFVs (including 2,500 M2A2/3), and 2,000 more M2A2/3 in storage.
- M3A2/3 scout vehicle. The US Army has 1,745 units (including 1,200 M3A2/3), and 800 more M3A2/3 in storage.
- M113A2/3 armored carrier. The US Army has 5,060 APCs (including 5,000 M113A2/3), and 8,000 more M113A2/3 in storage. The U.S. has already supplied 200 M113s to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and keeps another 100 vehicles of medical version on base. Denmark also supplied Ukraine with 54 M113s, and Australia with 28 units.
- M109A6 self-propelled gun. The US military has 689 SPGs (514 M109A6 and 175 M109A7), and 850 more M109A6 in storage. Great Britain and Norway also supplied the Ukrainian army with 20 and 22 M109s respectively.
- M142 HIMARS artillery rocket system. The US military has 588 MLRS (363 of the wheeled M142 type and 225 of the tracked M270A1 type). The U.S. has delivered 16 M142 systems to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and another 22 are planned. Also, Great Britain delivered six M270A1 systems, Germany – five units, and France – is planning to deliver three units.
- Javelin and TOW ATGMs. The US military has more than 7,100 Javelin launchers and 1,000 M1167 carriers armed with TOW anti-tank weapons. The USA has so far delivered 8,500 Javelin ATGMs and 1,500 TOW ATGMs to Ukraine. Great Britain also supplied 4,000+ NLAW ATGMs.
- Stinger MANPADS. The US military has tens of thousands of Stinger MANPADS available. More than 2,000 missiles have been delivered to Ukraine, and the US ordered another 3,000 missiles.
- Avenger air defense system and NASAMS. The US Air Force has 453+ M1097 Avenger vehicles with Stinger launchers, as well as a number of NASAMS air defense systems. The USA plans to transfer to Ukraine 8 NASAMS (8 batteries of 9 launchers, 3 radars and 1 command post), and Germany has already transferred one IRIS-T SLM air defense system (a battery of 3 launchers, 1 radar and 1 command post). Three more batteries were committed; Ukraine requested 10 batteries in total.
*Data on the number and nomenclature of US weapons in service and in storage were taken from The Military Balance handbook of the 2021 edition.
In addition, old American systems, which are no longer in service with the US Army and are stored in large quantities in arsenals, will be suitable for Ukraine. Their transfer to the Armed Forces of Ukraine will in no way affect the military capabilities of the United States:
- M109 Self-propelled guns, modifications from A1 to A6 inclusive, focusing on old models that are no longer in use, hundreds of them are in storage.
- M198 non-self-propelled howitzers.
- old unarmoured Humvees, 20,000 instead of the 200 new armoured ones we are getting now. This is a vehicle that will replace pickup trucks. At one time, 280,000 of them were produced, and tens of thousands were sent to Afghanistan.
- the old M-60 tanks, a 105-mm gun pierces the T-72 tank of the first series in the forehead, 105 mm tank shells are not needed in the world now, and they are probably old enough.
- MIM-23 HAWK air defense system (they are old but having a lower reach zone at a height of 60 meters, taking into account that enemy cruise missiles and drones do not fly below 100 meters, this complex of the Armed Forces would be enough to deal with part of the air defense targets).
- the old F-16 modifications from Block 30 to 35 inclusive. There is no need to manufacture them, there are more than 1,000 of them in reserve.
Also, the US, in addition to 480 new Patriot air defense systems, has 800 old ones in storage. Some of them could be given to Ukraine.
Author: Mykhailo Gonchar, Ukrainian energy and international relations expert, President, The Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”