As the war in Ukraine reached the 301st day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is visiting the U.S. on his first journey outside the country since the Russian invasion began almost ten months ago.
The Ukrainian leader’s visit to the U.S. comes at a critical point in the war. Ukraine has the strategic initiative and is winning on the ground. However, its military successes hinge on a continuous stream of Western military aid and intelligence. To be sure, without the grit and skill of its troops, Ukraine couldn’t have achieved its miracle. But the Western weapon systems have been key in Kyiv’s impressive defense.
To be able to continue with its counteroffensives and liberate the remainder of its territory—approximately 18 percent of the internationally recognized land, including Crimea and the Donbas—Ukraine has to have more weapon systems from the West. And that is one of the main reasons Zelensky is in the U.S.
Zelensky’s Surprise Visit
The visit of the Ukrainian leader, who only yesterday was on the frontlines in Bakhmut just a couple of miles from the Russian positions, to the U.S. will last only a few hours. Zelensky will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House before convening with national security officials and industry leaders. Finally, the Ukrainian president will conclude his visit with an address to Congress as an official guest of the Speaker of the House.
Zelensky’s visit is scheduled to coincide with another package of U.S. military aid, which will include a MIM-104 Patriot air defense battery and Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits that will turn Ukrainian unguided aircraft munitions into “smart” bombs that can strike with far more accuracy. The Patriot weapon system is aimed at protecting the Ukrainian cities from the Russian missile attacks.
At the opposite side, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with military officers on Wednesday and reiterated Moscow’s commitment to continue to pursue the war and take it to the end.
“We have no limits in terms of financing. The country and the government are providing everything that the army asks for — everything,” Putin said to thousands of Russian military officers.
Moscow is setting the conditions for a war that can last years.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to suffer extremely heavy casualties on the ground. On average, the Russian forces are losing around 450 men killed every day. Moscow is bleeding troops left and right, but the Russian commanders don’t seem to be changing their strategic or tactical approach.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 99,740 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 282 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 267 attack and transport helicopters, 3,002 tanks, 1,972 artillery pieces, 5,979 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 412 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,608 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,688 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 178 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 653 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.