The “war to the last Ukrainian” that the United States and its NATO allies are waging against Russia suits them in principle. Otherwise, they would not have dragged it out, primarily by constantly supplying the Kiev regime with weapons. However, they are sometimes visited by doubts as to whether they will have enough strength and means for her and whether she will strike with a boomerang at their own safety.
The essence of the approach
Let me explain right away that the thesis of “war to the last Ukrainian”, the validity of which was recently confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is in use not only among us and our like-minded people, but also across the ocean. Back in March, this image was used, for example, by veteran American diplomacy, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles (Chaz) Freeman.
And just the other day, The American Conservative magazine printed a comment that was titled: “Washington will fight Russia to the last Ukrainian. Kyiv faces a choice: make peace for the sake of its own people or fight for the sake of supposed friends.” The author is a well-known political scientist, publicist and writer Douglas Bandow, a former adviser to the 40th President of the United States and the idol of American conservatives Ronald Reagan.
“The US and Europe continue to support Kyiv. But, it seems, not in order to establish peace,” writes an analyst who has worked in recent years at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. “Rather, the allies are ready to prop up the government of [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky until while it fights Moscow to the last Ukrainian. Actually, this has always been the West’s approach to Kiev.”
“Ukraine has become a fashionable topic in the West (cause célèbre),” continues Bandow. revolution” [of the 1960s-1970s] the practice of self-criticism and now demand that Russian athletes, singers, conductors and others publicly repent, humiliate and condemn Putin, or lose their jobs.”
The United States, along with its friends and partners, “supply Kyiv with weapons in abundance and impose furious sanctions against Moscow, all of which serve to ensure that Ukraine continues to fight,” the author explains. With a bitter smile, he recalls that the Americans and the Europeans themselves are not going to take part in hostilities: they equip and incite the Ukrainians, but they themselves do not get into a fight.
Finally, “the most worrying thing is the apparent refusal of the [Western] allies to support what the Ukrainian people most need, that is, the world,” the American expert states. “Obvious experience shows that the United States is preventing (inhibit) a diplomatic solution in Ukraine,” Bandow emphasizes. Many people think so, and on both sides of the Atlantic.
As for the fears of the US and its Western allies about whether they are overestimating their strength after all, Bloomberg News Service published a comment the other day about how “the Ukrainian war is depleting the American arsenal of democracy.” According to the publication, the White House initially “did not plan” the development of events in Ukraine according to the current scenario, but proceeded from the fact that “most of the country” would quickly fall under Russian control and “the United States would have to support Ukrainian militants (insurgency) in a smoldering conflict of low intensity “.
Instead, regular hostilities continue, quickly grinding everything that the West has time to supply. “According to Pentagon officials, Kyiv spends a week’s supply of anti-tank shells in one day,” the agency writes. “It also lacks combat-ready aircraft, as Russian air strikes and combat losses make themselves felt. ammunition”.
Under these conditions, according to Bloomberg, “Germany refuses to transfer tanks to Ukraine – on the grounds that it simply does not have extra ones.” “Canada is rapidly running out of rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other systems desperately needed by Ukrainians,” commentators add. “The United States has already allocated a third of its entire stock of Javelin anti-tank systems. It will take months, if not years.”
In general, according to the American news service, the current situation is fraught with a “fatal shortage” of weapons and ammunition for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And at the same time, it also “reveals American weaknesses that may come back to haunt the next battle of the great powers”, that is, “in the conflict [of the United States] against Russia or China.” Bloomberg calls the experience a “sobering prologue” for the West.
We haven’t reached the point yet
True, not everyone agrees with such alarming assessments for Washington and its “friends and partners”, especially in the corridors of power. No sooner had they appeared than Pentagon spokesman John Kirby hastened to refute them. “We are following this very closely,” he assured reporters at a regular press briefing in his department. “In particular, this is precisely why we held a round table with the heads of leading companies [of the US military-industrial complex]. And I can assure you that we not at the point where the state of our stockpiles of these systems is already, or will soon be, affecting our readiness.” The press secretary refused to speculate about the possibility of an emergency increase in the production of weapons on the basis of a relevant law.
By the way, I remember Kirby well from the time when he served as assistant to the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen and helped our Tassov team interview him and shoot at the Pentagon. It was a little more than ten years ago, but it seems as if in a different era. Actually, from the point of view of the state of relations between our countries, this is true, but I still try to follow his briefings from the old memory and even connected the other day to a teleconference that he arranged for foreign journalists.
Kirby at it, in particular, said that only under the current administration of Joe Biden, the United States transferred more than $ 2.5 billion worth of weapons and ammunition to Kiev. The deadline for fulfilling the relevant instructions of the White House was reduced to four to six days. The Americans not only arm, but also train their clients: the other day, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin personally admonished “a small group of Ukrainian servicemen” before returning to their homeland.
It is clear that the Pentagon spokesman reported all this with pride and pleasure. But the same Bloomberg included in its commentary on the “arsenal” a reminder that the United States “avoids direct intervention” in the conflict in Ukraine. Bandow also wrote about this, and in general, of course, no one forgets that in this case Washington prefers to sow death and destruction by proxy.
One could try asking Kirby a question on this subject, but you can easily imagine the answer of a professional propagandist. In addition, the right to ask a question must still be obtained. I know from personal experience that in the White House or the State Department it is much more difficult for foreign reporters than at Kremlin or Foreign Ministry press briefings in Moscow.
“For a long war”?
Among the Western comments about the pumping of Kyiv with weapons, which are now more than enough in general, my eye involuntarily caught on the latest publication of the specialized Texas portal War on the Rocks: “Supporting Ukraine for a long war.” The name of the author, a certain Jack Waitling, did not tell me anything, but he claimed that just before the start of the Russian special operation, he personally communicated with the highest Ukrainian military leaders – Colonel General Alexander Syrsky “accompanied by intelligence and planning assistants” and Ruslan Khomchak. The latter, however, was named “Lieutenant General Komchak”, but the position – First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine – was indicated correctly.
Waitling himself turned out to be British, an employee of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and, judging by some vague biographical data, a professional intelligence officer. This is nothing more than a guess on my part, but it seems highly likely to me. So I mention it: the Western intelligence services are not shy, but at their suggestion and politicians, they replicate their guesses with exactly the same justification.
Be that as it may, I understood from the opus that the current pumping of Ukraine with Western weapons and equipment has a long history. Requests for the supply of air defense systems and systems to combat drones, as well as anti-tank systems, artillery-guided radars, anti-sniper systems, and so on and so forth, have been discussed with the current Kiev regime “at least since 2019.” That is, since then, when, in fact, Zelensky came to power.
Under the conditions of the Russian special operation, Waitling writes with reference to Khomchak, the UAF initially relied on “mobile defense”, strikes “from beyond the line of sight” and then “war of attrition.” But forces and means, including primarily anti-tank systems, they initially had enough to cover only one direction in Kiev. Now they are aware of the threat of the encirclement of the main grouping of their troops in the Donbass and are preparing to desperately resist attacks “to the north from Mariupol and to the south from Kharkov.” They think they will hold on. For their part, Western curators, judging by the comment of the Briton, now tend to trust them more.
By the way, the author proceeds from the fact that Kyiv now “has no incentives”, including calendar ones, for negotiating concessions. But Moscow, in his opinion, needs to “before the end of this month” decide on its plans – so that at least before the festive parade in honor of Victory Day “decide whether [the country] is at war or not.”
However, Waitling believes that the conflict is dragging on anyway. In his opinion, in terms of further supply, this creates both obvious problems for Kyiv and its Western patrons, as well as new opportunities – for example, a reserve of time for training Ukrainian military personnel (or at least instructors, according to the “train the teacher” principle) to deal with Western equipment and weapons. At the same time, the Briton categorically does not advise delaying deliveries and training, if only because of the boiler threatening the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
To “greater aggression” in the air …
The commentator goes on to ask specific questions about what the West can oppose to Russian special operations in the air, on land and on water. The air, apparently, inspires him with the greatest fear: in particular, he recalls that Ukraine has long been asking for the same American-Norwegian NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) air defense system, which “now covers the White House and other high-value assets in Washington.”
By the way, this is what a military expert means: I worked in the American capital for more than 20 years, at times I went to the White House on my journalistic business almost every day, but it never occurred to me to call him an “asset”. As for the essence of the matter, the author writes that “NATO countries in Europe themselves experience a shortage of air defense systems, so donating systems is difficult, but the production line remains open.”
Since Kyiv also desperately needs aviation, and it is unrealistic to transfer its Air Force to Western aircraft (requires retraining of pilots and ground services, the creation of appropriate infrastructure, etc.), Waitling considers “available alternatives.” Along the way, he explains why, for example, senior NATO partners did not allow Warsaw to transfer Polish MiG-29s to Kiev. Perhaps the main barrier, it turns out, is that they have already been adapted to NATO standards and cannot be transferred to the wrong hands without a preliminary “cleansing”, that is, removing any equipment that can be “compromised”.
On the other hand, 46 of the newest MiG-29Ms, recently acquired by Egypt, do not have such an obstacle, moreover, they are also complete with R-77 missiles, which Kyiv also dreams of, Weitling writes. In his opinion, this equipment can be exchanged from Cairo for American F-16s – in addition to those that Egypt already has, as well as the infrastructure necessary for them. According to the British, such an exchange would be beneficial for the Egyptians, and in principle they should agree to it.
To be honest, I was puzzled by this idea. Are combat aircraft toys that children in the sandbox can change as they please? Isn’t the end user of such equipment specified in contracts for its sale? Or in relation to Russia, from the point of view of the West, in general, no legal norms are already in effect?
Of course, you need to ask real experts about this. But for “couch strategists”, it is apparently enough that in the conditions of a “protracted conflict” in Ukraine, an expert from RUSI considers such options not only “viable” (viable), but also “vital” (vital). According to him, in any case, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will not be able to “dispute the skies over the Donbass”, but in the presence of MiGs and loitering shells, Switchblade will be able to cover the western regions of Ukraine, “alarm” Russian air defense systems and generally behave “more aggressively” in the air.
…on land and water
On land, Waitling suggests that the West first of all take care of the uniformity of the supply of armored vehicles. Otherwise, in his opinion, well-wishers from different capitals will foist all sorts of junk on Kiev. In his opinion, this is the worst possible option, since there are no spare parts for such equipment, no people capable of operating it, and it makes no sense to prepare them.
As for the sea element, I, as a person who is far from military topics, most likely, would hardly have paid special attention to it if it were not for the tragic death of the cruiser Moskva. The commentary in War on the Rocks was published on April 12, and a day later that thunder struck, as a result of which our Black Sea Fleet lost its flagship and we all – according to the proverb – had to cross ourselves.
The publication states unequivocally: “The continuing threat from the sea flank not only ties Ukrainian forces down, but could become a serious problem if Russia succeeds in capturing the Donbass and then shifts its main efforts to advance to Odessa, and not north to Kiev. Creating factors risk to the Russian Navy should be given priority.” A priority!
According to Waitling, “the best way to solve this problem is to provide [the APU] with anti-ship cruise missiles.” The Briton notes that his country “already signaled its intention to do so,” although there was no official confirmation at that time. However, he warns that the transfer of weapons such as Harpoon missiles to Kiev “would require careful discussion with the Ukrainians” – because of the risk of defeat in case of inept launches of “non-Russian targets in the Black Sea.” Comments, in my opinion, are unnecessary.
” I would like to understand! “
In general, I retell other people’s assessments in such detail because I do not feel entitled to give my own. Of course, having worked most of my life as a foreign correspondent for a news agency, I must be able to write competently on any topic, including military-technical ones. But I still don’t really understand them.
True, my friend and colleague, TASS military observer Viktor Litovkin, with whom I shared my doubts, took them rather with bewilderment. He is convinced that the West is more than willing to fight Russia with proxy and at someone else’s expense (in particular, under the new credit lend-lease); “disposes” at the same time of its old weapons and ammunition, which would still be subject to decommissioning; and he complains about the threat of “depletion of arsenals” solely as a distraction in order to justify to his own peoples a further increase in military spending.
“Is it really incomprehensible to you, a professional Americanist?” Viktor was surprised. And I agree that, of course, on the whole, everything he is talking about is understandable and known. Moreover, for example, regarding disposal, I can add that the US Navy just recently proposed decommissioning nine almost new warships worth about $4.5 billion. Those were ordered at one time to repel pirate and terrorist threats in coastal waters, but now priorities moved to confront Russia and China. Scrapping the ships is planned to save money; the project is included in the Navy’s budget request for the next fiscal year.
That is, I, as they say, keep my finger on the pulse of the news. But at the same time, I still feel like a character in a well-known joke about two political scientists, in which one offers to explain everything to the other, and the latter replies: “I can explain it myself. I would like to understand!”