Western fear of arming Ukraine holds back its victory – military expert

Western fear of arming Ukraine holds back its victory – military expert

Leaders of NATO countries after NATO summit in Brussels on 24 March 2022.  

International, Opinion

Article by: Interview by Bohdan Ben
Edited by: Morgan Foster

Editor’s Note

Ukraine could “absolutely” win back all Russian-occupied territories; yet, the western fear of arming Ukraine is holding back its victory, believes military expert Mykhailo Samus. Only on the 40th day of Russia’s current invasion did some countries begin to send heavy weapons; the EU would be content with Ukraine’s capitulation and NATO has chosen to abstain from responsibility.

It is essential to understand that there is no room for compromise: as long as Putin lives, he will not accept any end to the war other then control over Ukraine. Only Ukraine’s victory, when Russia is forced to withdraw, can bring peace.

After the 40th day of the Russian war against Ukraine, the first reports came about heavy weapons delivered to Ukraine from the West, such as rocket artillery and tanks from the Czech Republic, artillery from Estonia, and armored vehicles from the UK and Australia.

In the second part of his interview with Euromaidan Press, Military expert Mykhailo Samus told that the EU could well sacrifice Ukraine to Russia for the stability of the European market; NATO, likewise, has preferred to abstain. But a firm Ukrainian resistance can now change the attitude of these alliances and, hopefully, finally end Putin’s many wars that the world has preferred not to notice.

Western fear of arming Ukraine holds back its victory – military expert ~~

Mykhaylo Samus is a director at The New Geopolitics Research Network and Deputy Director at the Army Research, Conversion, and Disarmament Center (CACDS). He served 12 years in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was the founder (2009) of the EU CACDS office in Prague (Czech Republic), and was responsible for the coordination of CACDS international activities, its regional sections, and projects with NATO and the EU. He also worked as a journalist at Defense Express.

Reasons for western fear of arming Ukraine

Why is NATO still reluctant to provide more support for Ukraine, in particular in the form of strongly requested heavy weapons, even after the damage Ukraine has already inflicted on the Russian army?

NATO simply does not want to take responsibility and assume leadership

In fact, NATO’s purported strength is a myth: there are not many truly powerful armies in Europe. The UK military is prepared for war, France may be partially prepared, as it has participated in foreign operations. In Eastern Europe, Poland, the Czech Republic, and possibly Romania have more or less ready militaries. The entire German Army possesses only 200 tanks.

To put this into perspective, Ukraine has already destroyed more than 700 Russian tanks. In this context, a mere 200 tanks seem wildly inadequate. Moreover, the German aviation fleet has not yet been modernized. This lack of military readiness stems from the romanticism of the 1990s and the idea that there would be no more wars, so Germany sold its weapons.

Most importantly, the citizens of Western countries are not ready to fight. For example, in the United States, the current administration is fundamentally opposed to involving American troops in a war abroad. They remember the evacuation from Afghanistan, the organization of which was appalling. NATO simply does not want to take responsibility and assume leadership: they prefer to sit back and attempt to maintain stability within their system.

The scale of equipment that the US provided to Afghanistan as military aid. Source: taskandpurpose ~

The scale of equipment that the US provided to Afghanistan as military aid. Source: taskandpurpose

On the other hand, the UK is taking the initiative in supporting Ukraine. The United States is proactive in its leadership, though not as intensely as it could. The US has several thousand F-16s in storage facilities in Arizona and many thousands of unused Hummers that have not yet been offered to support Ukraine.

There was talk of some 100 Humvees to be given to Ukraine. However, 10,000 Humvees are needed to equip each unit to actively carry out their combat missions. Our army has grown rapidly this month due to mobilization, but there is not enough equipment to distribute among those who joined the army.

At the same time, according to surveys, citizens of European countries and the United States generally support Ukraine: there was even high support for a no fly zone at the time it was discussed.

The only logical explanation for Biden thwarting Ukrainian military success is fear.

Biden is certainly helping Ukraine; however, as he says, this help is on a scale that will prevent the United States from being directly involved. Their main task is to avoid a direct conflict with Russia, and through this fear it seems that Biden is preventing Ukraine from winning. Assuming that Biden is not directly trying to prevent a Ukrainian victory, the only logical explanation for Biden thwarting Ukrainian military success is fear.

Why the west does not arm Ukraine

The Patriot is the primary kind of surface-to-air missile system used by the USA and allied nations. The USA had ruled out the transfer of Patriots to Ukraine in mid-March, claiming that US troops are needed to operate them. Photo: Wikipedia

I don’t understand his logic. For example, compare the Javelin and the Patriot. The Patriot is actually a less offensive weapon than the Javelin, and it would be of strategic importance to the Ukrainian military. However, there are concerns that if the Patriot were used in Ukraine, Russia would declare war on the United States.

Imagine this scenario: Russians discover that their planes on the territory of Ukraine have been downed by a Patriot. What consequences will follow? Would Russia retaliate with a nuclear strike on the United States just because the Patriot was used to down Russian planes? Certainly not. The Russians cannot start attacking the United States because they know they will get an answer that Putin will not like.

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Isn’t the West trying to reach a solution “somewhere in the middle” rather than support a firm Ukrainian victory?

In fact, they tried to avoid this war as much as possible. When we advised them for years: Don’t build Nord Stream 2 because it will be used against you; try to avoid complete dependence on Russian gas; they did not take us seriously. Their explanation was that they have certain economic interests and there will be no war.

Now there is a message that the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany shared publicly: at the beginning of the war, the German Minister of Economy stated that Ukraine would only survive a couple of hours, so there was no point in helping it.

EU leaders would welcome any agreement between Russia and Ukraine, even a complete Ukrainian surrender.

Germany has a long-held fear that it is impossible to fight Russia.

They remember the Napoleonic Wars and World War II; they believe Russia cannot be defeated because it is too vast with too many resources; they mathematically calculate everything, and in their calculations, Russia is always victorious.

These politicians cannot grasp what has happened in Ukraine, because it doesn’t fit into their version of logic.

The Germans are now disoriented. Recall that in 2014, both Germany and France wanted to resolve the war at the expense of Ukraine’s interests in order to preserve EU business and interests.

This model is clear in the Minsk agreements in which the word “Russia” is not mentioned even once. This conspicuous absence clearly demonstrates that Russia is not recognized as an aggressor. In fact, all demands fall on Ukraine.

Now, in the new wave of full-scale war, Europe also wants to end it as soon as possible. EU leaders would welcome any agreement between Russia and Ukraine, even a complete Ukrainian surrender. It would benefit the EU economy if Ukraine simply capitulated as the EU would no longer maintain any responsibility for Ukraine.

The meeting of Ukrainian (right), Russian (left) presidents, German chancellor and French president to facilitate the implementation of Minsk agreements where Russia was not clearly recognized as an aggressor. 2015. ~

The meeting of Ukrainian (right), Russian (left) presidents, German chancellor and French president to facilitate the implementation of Minsk agreements where Russia was not clearly recognized as an aggressor. 2015.

After Ukraine withstood the first blows, it is essential to understand that as long as Putin lives, he will not allow this situation to end. For example, the idea of Putin initiating negotiations on Crimea is unimaginable: this would completely destroy his political image and ability to stay in power. Putin’s only option is to escalate the situation.

I see a tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine as more likely than the start of negotiations on Crimea. In Putin’s worldview, it is perfectly reasonable to threaten and employ nuclear strikes; negotiations on Crimea, however, are absolutely not reasonable.

Why is it so hard to impose truly powerful sanctions on Russian fossil fuels?

European politicians were in no way preparing to limit gas from Russia, though Ukraine had warned them about this situation. Now, with images of Mariupol in everyone’s minds, it is difficult for politicians to tell the German population that they will not impose sanctions.

But the German government’s decisions come slowly. Additionally, French companies are particularly slow to leave the Russian market. Perhaps they still hope it is possible to reach some deal with Putin.

Can “security guarantees” proposed at negotiations be a reliable substitute for NATO in Ukraine?

In short, the negotiating points Ukraine proposes can be implemented exclusively after Putin dies. This seems to be primarily a test of Putin’s inner circle. How will they react to such a prospect? It is likely that the reaction was not positive because after the proposal, the next night the intensity of hostilities increased, Kyiv and Kharkiv were heavily shelled.

More Ukrainians support military alliance with UK & Poland than NATO accession, poll shows

The proposed guarantees seem disadvantageous to Ukraine because they are one-sided. That is, if we are talking about an analog of Article 5, then it is better to create a new alliance in which active countries declare that they will carry out mutual defense. Even the US and UK are enough because they are two nuclear countries.

Of course, Poland, the Baltic states, and possibly the Czech Republic and Romania may also join. If Turkey joins, then this is the foundation of a new powerful organization.

In fact, now is the perfect time for NATO to do its job: resist the evil empire with Ukraine actively fighting on the side of NATO. But NATO doesn’t act. This raises the question: if Russia conducts a landing in Lithuania now – not to fight, but to defend the quarter of Vilnius where there are many Russian-speakers – will NATO follow Article 5? Many, including Lithuanians, are doubtful. In any case, in the first days of any conflict, a country must be able to rely fully on its own army and resources.

NATO’s foot-dragging amid Russian atrocities in Ukraine is indefensible

Is there a chance for Ukraine to at least win back Donbas?

No European country would have been able to achieve such a level of mobilization in one month as Ukraine has achieved.

Ukraine absolutely has a chance to win back all territories. Ukraine has significantly surpassed Russia in terms of the effectiveness of hostilities. So far, Russians are pursuing their old Russian-Soviet tactic of using soldiers as cannon fodder just as the Russians fought in Finland when soldiers walked through the minefields as a demining strategy.

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The Russians can easily mobilize a few million more soldiers. We shouldn’t have illusions. But in terms of tactics and operational technique, Ukrainian generals will beat them. No European country would have been able to achieve such a level of mobilization in one month as Ukraine has achieved.

April will be critical: Russia will try to do its best, but Ukraine will start receiving massive aid from the West and stands a strong chance to repel Russian attacks and win back currently occupied territories.

Zuzana can become the first modern self-propelled artillery purchased by Ukraine from western partners, in this case from Slovakia ~

Zuzana can become the first modern self-propelled artillery purchased by Ukraine from western partners, in this case from Slovakia

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Edited by: Morgan Foster
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