Seventy per cent of Russian attacks on Ukraine are now reported to be against civilian targets – apartment buildings, schools, universities, medical facilities, neighborhoods and shopping centers.
Of late, the Russian’s shellings and missile strikes have landed in many parts of the country, not just the battle grounds.
Short of quick capitulation, Vladimir “The Terrorist” Putin is aiming to destroy not only the infrastructure of his neighboring country that he had previously agreed to never invade, but also the collective will of the Ukrainian people so they and their allies will say, “Enough.” But that is not going to happen as long as its Western allies, like the U.S., stay resolute in confronting his murderous invasion.
“Terrorist” is the right word as he and his army target innocent people. Most reports from the abused people demonstrate that his strategy of leveling the country is not producing submission or defeatism. The reaction of most Ukrainians has been anger against Russia.
Because the occupying Russian troops consistently deliver rape, pillage and torture, the Ukrainian people have no illusions that a surrender of territory for an armistice would do any good. Many would rather die fighting an uneven war.
There is new hope in the battle to suppress Russia’s main tactic: long range missile and artillery strikes. The first shipment of American High Mobility Rocket Systems (HIMARS) has already empowered the Ukrainian forces to knock out 30 Russian logistic centers. Only four HIMARS systems have been put into action, but another four have arrived. Troops to fire them are being trained in Germany.
Heretofore, the Russian troops could stay out of range of the Ukrainian artillery. They are no longer safe.
The U.S. has already contributed $25 billion in military aid to the war, and the other Western supporters have supplied another $10 billion.
The latest U.S. commitment pays for the training of Ukrainian pilots to operate American F-15 and F-16 jets. They will make a difference at a strategic time when the war could go either way.
The biggest advantage, though, comes from the HIMARS. They reach farther than the antiquated weapons that Russia is pulling out of mothballs. The course of the war could be changed quickly if we supply Ukraine with hundreds of HIMARS.
That capability will come on top of Russia’s incurring huge losses of troops and battlefield equipment.
The Ukrainian government estimates that 38,000 Russian soldiers have died and that another 10,000 plus are wounded causalities. Human losses won’t deter Putin’s grandiose ambitions.
The Russians have lost more than 1700 tanks, 220 planes, 15 ships (including its flagship cruiser Moskva), about 180 helicopters and more than 850 artillery pieces.
It has become a brutal war of attrition on both sides. Ukraine does not release its casualty numbers, but president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he is losing 100 to 200 soldiers a day. That adds to 14,000 to 28,000 valiant soldiers over the course of the 144-day war.
The war is at a stalemate. It appears that the Russians are losing more military capability than Ukraine.
There is great danger that the Western allies will lose their commitment to the long run because of rising energy prices and food shortages in Europe. Putin is playing that global strategic card in the hopes the alliance behind Ukraine comes apart.
But Ursula vonder Leyen, president of the European Commission, got it right when she said recently, “Moscow must continue to pay a high price for it aggression.” Its biggest loss has been the emigration of more than 100,000 emigres to other countries.
Collectively, Western democracies have far more conventional firepower to supply Ukraine than does Russia. War is often more a matter of economics than weaponry. Even facing high inflation and a recession, the West must use its far greater economic power to out-last and out-weigh Putin, the terrorist.
It is heartening that the Biden administration and both parties in Congress have reached the hard-nosed conclusion that there is no other solution to the Russian butchery than a military victory, or at least a military stalemate that saps the Russian economy. For now, on this all-important issue, we have rare bipartisanship.
~ John Torinus, Retired Marine Artillery Officer