Can Ukraine survive without US weapons?

At the end of September last year, Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Washington to try to keep alive the American support for Ukraine in the face of growing opposition in the Republican ranks to continue financing their defense against Russian aggression. The Ukrainian president’s message did not go unnoticed among the congressmen: “If we don’t get help, we will lose the war“the Democrat later said Chuck Schumer in summary. Zelensky managed to save that match point, but since then everything has become much more complicated. The law that binds the military aid to Ukraine with border security USA failed on Wednesday in the Senate. It is not yet his final death sentence, but he has put a peremptory question on the table: can kyiv survive if American weapons and funds dry up until the end of the year at least?

The moment is the worst possible for Ukraine. Perhaps the most adverse since late 2022, when its troops achieved their last significant successes on the battlefield, liberating several regions occupied by Russia. Kremlin troops once again take the initiative. They advance in points Donbas and accumulate strength in Kharkiv to try to reconquer the province. His drive contrasts with exhausted Ukrainian forces and serious ammunition shortageswhich is translating into a increase in local casualties and the impossibility of plan future operations, as Royal United Services military analyst Jack Watling told the ‘Financial Times’.

To all this we should add the confusion (and presumably unrest among the troops) that the dismissal of General Zaluzhni, announced this Thursday by Zelensky, the man who has led the Ukrainian defense since the start of the war. Or the law for mobilize new recruits which is finalized in Parliament. Without guarantees of US support, it is questionable whether it will generate a massive response from citizens, already reluctant to mobilize.

Progressive military decline

Even though the White House fails in its attempts to approve the 60 billion dollars waiting on the table in Congress, the weapons will not dry up all at once. Pre-commitments ensure that they continue to flow for several months or even years. Hence, experts expect a gradual decline which, however, will be increasingly noticeable in the battlefield. “Ukraine will not be able to throw counteroffensives. By February or March, you will have difficulty carrying out counterattacks at local level and, at the beginning of summer, it will suffer to repel the russian attacks” wrote retired Marine colonel and Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Mark Cancian. “At some point, the front will collapse and Russia will impose a tough peace“.

The drama of Ukraine is that its aid has not only become entangled in the internal politics of the United States, which is extraordinarily Cainite, but also in its election campaign. A period where concessions to the rival are considered little less than a betrayal. Particularly in the Republican Party of Donald Trump. After seeing how its first attempt failed, the White House has separated the help ukraine of funds for border security. Try to get it approved as part of a package that also includes 35,000 million additional aid to Israel.

But the first attempt already failed yesterday in the Upper House, a priori more receptive than the Lower House, held by the conservatives. “If we do not honor our commitment to Ukraine, there will not be a single nation – friend or rival – that will fully trust us again,” the Democratic senator has written online. Mark Warner. Washington is risking its credibility, but it would not be the first time it has left its allies hanging, as the Afghans know well.

Europe cannot assume the vacuum of the US

For most of the war, the US has been the main arms donor to Ukraine, but that trend changed last summer, according to a study by the German Kiel Institute. In the aggregate total until October 2023, the European Union and its member countries have contributed 47% of the heavy weapons, compared to 43% in Washington. “Our data confirm the impression about the growing doubts from donors in recent months. “Ukraine increasingly depends on a small hard core of donors,” wrote Cristph Trebesch, the head of the Kiel study. Basically GermanyUSA and Nordic countries.

But experts agree that Europe will not be able to replace the US if its aid disappears. It does not have the manufacturing capacity to do it at the necessary pace. Just a few days ago the German Defense Minister admitted that Brussels will not be able to fulfill its commitment to hand over kyiv one million artillery ammunition in March. In fact, it will send you less than half the promised amount. Hence, the future seems darker every day for Ukraine. There seems to be a consensus among military experts that, without US help, kyiv will lose the war sooner or later.

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