Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ukraine believes US assistance won’t stop Russian army

A new US aid package will harden Ukraine’s resistance but will not be enough to stem the tide in the conflict with Russia, officials in Kiev and military analysts have told the Financial Times.

The US House of Representatives approved a $61 billion security package for Kiev on Saturday, following months of congressional squabbling over Republican demands for the White House to boost security on the Mexican border. The bill still needs to be approved by the Democratic-majority Senate and signed by US President Joe Biden.

Although the new package has prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to claim that his country could still defeat Russia, many officials in Kiev are less enthusiastic, arguing it “is unlikely to dramatically alter Kiev’s situation on the frontline”, according to the FT.

Several Ukrainian frontline troops told the newspaper that they are barely holding on under relentless Russian attacks, while suffering from acute ammunition shortages. Some soldiers said they hoped an influx of US-made equipment would improve their situation, although one senior Ukrainian official told the daily that it “will help to slow down the Russian advance, but not stop it”.

Another Ukrainian source echoed that assessment, noting that while the assistance would reduce the ammo deficit, it “does not contain a silver bullet”.

One Ukrainian military analyst remarked that the $61 billion assistance could be the last of its kind this year, adding that “there is a fairly high probability that all subsequent aid packages for Ukraine will be much smaller in size”.

An ammunition deficit is not the only problem facing Ukraine. Rob Lee, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program, pointed out that manpower is another major challenge for Kiev. The issue of recruiting more troops to the front line “may be the key to how the war unfolds in 2025”, he assessed.

In February, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu estimated Ukraine’s losses since the start of the conflict at more than 444,000 troops. Earlier this month, he said Kiev had lost more than 80,000 soldiers this year alone.

In recent weeks, Ukrainian authorities have embarked on a flurry of legislative activity to replenish battlefield losses. Zelensky has signed two bills in April, one of which lowers the age of conscription for men from 27 to 25, while the other significantly tightens mobilization rules.

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