Yesterday's announcement that the U.S. would provide 31 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine was welcome, and apparently prompted a reluctant Germany to free up some of its Leopard II tanks and those of NATO allies for Ukraine. With a Russian spring offensive coming in a matter of weeks, the heavy armor may be too late in coming and too few in number to have an impact on blunting Russia's initial advance. Retired Lt. Gen. Dr. James Dubik writes in The Hill that we and our allies need to accelerate the types of weapons that will eject Putin's forces from Ukraine sooner rather than later, saving innocent Ukrainian lives:
"Vladimir Putin has never wavered from his primary goal in Ukraine: subjugation. He continues to deny the existence of Ukrainian sovereignty; for him Ukraine is part of Russia. He also maintains the fiction of a Nazi regime that Russia must oust, and he is taking steps to improve his military’s performance for an upcoming offensive. In short, he remains the unrepentant and determined war-criminal aggressor that he has been from the start.
Putin’s idea of negotiations is Ukraine capitulation, Zelensky’s removal, and Russian dominance of what’s left. Putin has lost, in the sense that his aggression has only strengthened NATO and the U.S./European transatlantic ties and weakened Russia economically. But he has not lost in Ukraine itself. He still controls much of the Donbas — important because Russian occupation there robs Ukraine of industrial capacity, thereby increasing, in Putin’s view, reliance on Russia. [snip]
Only force can move him from where he is — physical force from a counteroffensive, diplomatic force from further isolation, economic force from expanded sanctions, and psychological force from Ukraine and allied unity. Negotiating now will achieve none of this. War is about force. It’s a sad reality, but it is reality. As emotionally disturbing as it is to watch the effects of Putin’s debauchery, it will be more disturbing if he succeeds.
The U.S., NATO, and other allies must provide Ukraine with what it needs to accomplish the full set of tasks necessary to eject Russia from all the territory it has seized since February 2022 and at least threaten Putin’s control of occupied Donbas and Crimea. This is the minimum criteria for Ukraine and allied success in this war. Otherwise, Ukraine’s political sovereignty and territorial integrity will mean nothing — and the allied claim to stand against illegal aggression will mean even less. The allies must simply stop the 'give them part of what they need, slower than they need it' approach to supplying Ukraine. This approach has gone on too long already. Ukraine needs more air defense systems, tanks, and long-range artillery — and rockets to do what is necessary." (our emphasis)
This is a war of criminal aggression and territorial expansion by a fascistic, imperialist regime in Moscow. Even with the significant military support we and our allies have provided so far, Ukraine needs more offensive weapons now to cleanse itself of the invading Russian and Wagner mercenary army in the year ahead.