Regaining sovereignty over every square inch of Ukrainian territory remains Ukraine’s primary objective. Uneven training and equipment of its armed forces and the lack of air supremacy have ground its counteroffensive to a snail’s pace. More recently, the pace of isolated attacks against targets in occupied Crimea has picked up in pace with a series of partisan raids and missile attacks.
Western limitations imposed on Ukraine’s use of its weaponry have hamstrung the Ukrainians in their ability to bring the war to the Russians. Britain’s Storm Shadow cruise missiles have a range of up to 347 miles. Germany’s Taurus missiles have a range of 310 miles.
The missiles can hit targets on occupied Crimea; however, they could also theoretically be used to target Moscow.
Ukraine Looks For Wonder Weapons to Win
Ukraine has put a premium on replacing its Soviet-era weaponry with the latest American and European weapons. These include HIMARS rockets, ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles, M-1 Abrams tanks, M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, Challenger 2 tanks, Leopard tanks, and F-16s among others.
Russian propagandists were quick to point out when they knocked out these Western armored vehicles.
Defeating the Russian army will not be an easy task. Vladimir Putin and his inner circle remain determined to hold onto Ukraine until the bitter end and waste as many men as possible to ensure that Ukraine does not win.
Ukraine had major successes in 2022 with the liberation of Kharkiv and the northern parts of the country near Kyiv; however, those same successes have not been replicated along the southern front. Russian troops are demoralized in some areas; however, they continue to wage a stubborn resistance.
Ukraine’s Army Needs Improvement
No matter how good the weapons the Ukrainians have are, they are only as good as Ukraine’s soldiers and leaders. Due to uneven training and heavy losses the Ukrainian army has struggled to break through Russian lines and sever the land bridge linking the Donbas with Crimea.
Ukraine has struggled to employ combined-arms tactics that have infantry, armor, and airpower working together against their determined enemy.
“Even if Ukraine were able to fix all these tactical issues, it would still struggle to overcome Russian defences without more mine-clearing equipment, short-range air defence, air power and a significant advantage over Russia in stocks of artillery ammunition. Ukraine’s forces are highly motivated but face a daunting task against minefields, entrenchments and competent Russian defenders,” Franz-Stefan Gady is the founder and CEO of Gady Consulting and a consulting senior fellow with the Institute for International Strategic Studies, and Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, wrote in a piece that appeared in The Economist in July. “A Ukrainian force that has struggled to coordinate the different parts of its ground force will find it even harder to integrate them with air power, which Ukraine currently lacks. Integrating Western air power—Ukraine hopes to get American f-16 fighters soon—and using it effectively is likely to take years. It would be rash to pin too much hope on it when it arrives: having air power does not guarantee air superiority, which is not easily gained or maintained on a battlefield where advanced air defences are plentiful and the opponent’s air force outnumbers yours.”
Victory is a Way Away
Ukraine’s troops are getting better, but so are the Russians. Sobriety and realism are needed. Ukraine is determined to regain its territory, but Russia is just as determined to keep its conquests.
A major goal for the Ukrainian army should be reforming its operations to develop a more qualitative edge over Russia. Victory could be years away. Anyone who thinks it will be around the corner is lying to themselves and to those around them.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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