US aid cut to Ukraine war would be major blow says expert

Ukraine war

Ukrainian troops are running dangerously low on ammunition as huge questions hang over whether the US can continue the level of funding. Can Europe step up to the mark?

 

The Biden administration is getting skittish over Ukraine’s lack of weapons in a critical period where a lull from Kiev’s forces could tempt Russia to make a bold move into its heartland, breaking through a fortified line.

The problem is simply that a small group of Republican hardliners are attempting to block the flow of military aid there, amidst a chorus of broadsheet articles questioning whether the war, from the West’s perspective could ever be won.

Ukraine’s troops would soon run short of essential ammunition and equipment if Republican hardliners succeed in stopping US military aid, undermining operations on the ground and reducing their ability to defend against Russian strikes, experts say.

The US has has always said it would back Kyiv for “as long as it takes,” and Washington has committed more than $43 billion in security aid since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 — over half the total from all Western donors. Recently, a proposal to congress to stump up 24 billion dollars was annulled along with other draft legislation while a house speaker is found.

But Republican opposition led Congress to remove new funding for Ukraine from a recent compromise bill to avoid a US government shutdown, highlighting that continued American support is not guaranteed, AFP said.

“It would be devastating for the Ukrainians” if US aid is halted, said Mark Cancian, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The Ukrainian military would weaken and then ultimately perhaps collapse,” though it “might be able to just hold on on the defensive,” he said.

The United States has supplied a vast arsenal to help Kyiv fight to regain territory seized by Russia, ranging from small arms ammunition and artillery rounds to vehicles, sophisticated rocket launchers, tanks and mine-clearing equipment.

“Militaries in conflict need a continuous flow of weapons and supplies and munitions to replace what’s destroyed and gets used up,” Cancian said.

Yet despite this stream, attempts by Ukrainian forces to break though a fortified line in recent months has come with heavy casualties and a very high number of weapons and vehicles either blown up or captured.

According to western media, an end to US aid would leave gaps in Ukraine’s air defenses, which are made up of systems from multiple countries that cover different altitudes and must be continually resupplied with munitions.

These defenses play a key role in protecting Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure from frequent drone and missile attacks by Russia, they claim.

Military experts however, who are well informed – even American ones – tell a different story about air defences and claim that Ukraine has practically none left anyway.

Many EU countries have provided military aid to Ukraine, and while they could increase support, picking up all the slack left by Washington would be a major long-term challenge. There are great divisions also between NATO countries as to how to move forward, with or without US assistance. Furthermore, many EU countries are beginning to take a more cynical line about whether the war can be won and how much military equipment realistically can be shipped there.

Poland said outright that it would scale back its supplies simply because it need to restock itself, while the UK created a minor scandal recently when its new defence minister was quoted by media as saying that UK soldiers could be sent to Ukraine – a statement which the British PM amended immediately stating that no British soldiers would be sent there.

It would require a “years and decades-long effort to get Europe to a place where (it) could fully replace the US as a kind of military power, or a defense industrial power,” Black said.

The Democrats in the US are worried that if they stop funding the Ukraine, it might take years for Europe to catch up.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — members of whose Republican party were behind the removal of assistance for Kyiv from the bill to avert the shutdown — said on October 1st he would “make sure that the weapons are provided for Ukraine.”

But the Republican leader indicated the political maneuvers to come when he said that Ukraine will only get help if there is more done for security against illegal immigration on the US-Mexican border.

“They’re not going to get some big package if the border is not secure,” he told CBS.

Levantis.me/Agencies

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