Ukraine update: Balancing desperate needs and uncomfortable reality

Ukraine update: Balancing desperate needs and uncomfortable reality

Over the course of the now more than two-month-long invasion of Ukraine, kos has written several times about the difficulty of integrating unfamiliar weapons systems into an army—especially when that army is already engaged in a life-or-death struggle. Every single one of these systems comes with its own training requirements, not just for the person whose finger is on the trigger, but for all the mechanics, electricians, and support crews needed to keep it operating in the field. For some systems that training can be done in days. For others it extends into months.

Then there were issues with the supply chain. Even if the U.S. or some other NATO country shipped additional weapon systems into Ukraine, they had to come with a steady stream of parts and ammo to keep them running. Why Russia has been unsuccessful at shutting down that supply chain is going to be a subject of debate for decades, but there’s no doubt they’ve tried. To a large extent, the push that Russia is making toward the town of Barinkove, southwest of Izyum, is about cutting supplies to Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

The more different systems a military is using, the more different calibers and types of ammo they require, and the more parts and varied training are required, the less likely something is to work when it’s needed. A piece of artillery may be just in the right spot, but it’s no good without shells. A tank may be prepared to breech the enemy lines, but it won’t operate if it blows an engine gasket and there’s no spare. An anti-aircraft system may be the shiniest thing on the planet, but if no one on site understands how to operate it, it might be literally worse than nothing.

As the weeks have passed during Russia’s invasion, the floodgates on heavy weapons have opened—as kos predicted they would weeks ago.

Part of the reason for that is simple enough: Time. It doesn’t make much sense to train someone on a system that takes six weeks to learn if the war is expected to be over in days. When it became clear that Russia wasn’t going to roll into Kyiv and put on those parade dress uniforms, it suddenly made a lot more sense to introduce weapons and systems that took more time to learn and more time to integrate with Ukraine’s existing systems.

In almost all cases, it still makes the most sense to give Ukraine more of what they already have—mostly variants of Soviet-era systems that match up well with the Russian opposition. They know how to operate these systems and how to repair them. Where they need to be modified to bring a NATO-spec vehicle into line with Ukrainian standards, Ukraine already has shops set up to make those changes. As long as a stream of T-72 tanks, S-300 air defense systems, and Mi-17 helicopters can be kept flowing, it needs to flow.

However, there are already a wide variety of systems being sent to Ukraine. As Oryx records, new deliveries include a wide variety of drones, six different radar systems, three new types of APVs, five kinds of howitzers (using at least two new ammunitions), and three different kinds of artillery (again, with at least two different types of ammunition). 

As desperately needed as some of this equipment may be on the front lines, and as gratifying as seeing these systems in operation may be, particularly to the nations sending them, there is a real chance of helping Ukraine to death. Every truck that’s bringing 155 mm howitzer ammo is not carrying 122 mm. Or 152 mm. Every mechanic who spends a few weeks in Poland learning to repair an M198 is not learning to repair a D-30. Just shooting one round out of these things is not a cakewalk.

Fire mission – one round! 💥 Press ▶️ for some weekend motivation courtesy of the @USArmy as they demonstrate how to properly load and fire artillery from an M198 howitzer. #KnowYourMil pic.twitter.com/KJAGhGeTqo

— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 10, 2019

Watching the round-robin of calls between allied nations looking into what to send next can be extremely frustrating, and must be 100 times more frustrating in Ukraine. But coordination, cooperation, and those all important logistics have never been more vital than they are now. 

Almost from Day One, the supply chain going into Ukraine has been “remarkable.” Ukraine earned the time to integrate all those new systems by fighting back against Russian forces in those first few days. They didn’t just prove Russia wrong, they proved everyone who thought that by now we’d be in the “Russia takes all the cities, while Ukraine is reduced to partisan warfare” stage was way off base.

They earned a chance to not just survive, but to win, and now NATO is doing what they can to bring in a steady stream of not just older weapons, but some so new that we honestly don’t know much about them.

Kyiv asked for a new Kamikaze drone to fight Russia. The US Air Force delivered Phoenix Ghost https://t.co/Q9gsVRoHtL via @amermilnews

— benoit tordeurs (@btordeurs) April 26, 2022

It would be easy for NATO nations to treat the invasion of Ukraine like an opportunity to clean out the closets and empty the hangers of everything they want out of the way anyway. But the best thing to do for Ukraine is still what kos said back on April 8: Give them what they know, or things that—like a Javelin anti-tank missile or Switchblade drone—are essentially disposable. 

It would be very easy to place an additional burden on Ukraine even while trying to help them, which is why all those meetings that are happening outside Ukraine, like the one chaired this week by the United States, are so important.

The more time Ukraine gets, the more it will be possible to replace older Soviet-designed systems with newer, more powerful, more effective systems. But they have to buy that time, and we have to help them.

Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld


Tuesday, Apr 26, 2022 · 10:22:43 PM +00:00

·
Mark Sumner

Two sites in Russian-occupied Luhansk were struck. One of them reportedly was a stockpile of rockets for Russian GRAD systems. 

Local sources report a fire and explosions at Russian ammunition depots in occupied Irmino, Luhansk Oblast, about 20 km from the closest Ukrainian positions. The facilities were allegedly hit by the Ukrainian artillery several hours ago. 📹via @PVB40pic.twitter.com/YUvXbN5amb

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) April 26, 2022


Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 12:36:06 AM +00:00

·
Mark Sumner

Around Kherson, 🇷🇺 forces occupied Oleksandrivka while 🇺🇦 resecured Novopetrivka and some of the surrounding area. pic.twitter.com/fXiAmjR226

— Ukraine War Map (@War_Mapper) April 27, 2022


Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 2:16:23 AM +00:00

·
Mark Sumner

Not clear exactly which vehicles are involved here. It’s odd that Canada is only sending 8, and from the way they’re described, it seems as if these may be brand new vehicles still to be manufactured.  Roshel currently builds the Senator APC, so that’s the most likely vehicle here.

Today, we are announcing that Canada has finalized a contract for eight armoured vehicles manufactured by Roshel, and we will supply them to our Ukrainian friends as quickly as possible.

— Anita Anand (@AnitaAnandMP) April 26, 2022

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