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A long war suits Ukraine, not Russia

Ukrainian troops try out a French-made self-propelled howitzer


Despite Russia’s many failures since its invasion of Ukraine, says Phillips Payson O’Brien in The Atlantic, the “underlying assumption” remains that Moscow’s chances of victory increase the longer the war goes on. In reality, the reverse is true. Yes, the Kremlin can call up plenty of reluctant conscripts. But those troops will be totally ineffective without proper equipment – and that’s in short supply. Russia has already lost at least 1,600 tanks, eight times more than it usually produces in a year. With Western sanctions crippling manufacturing capacity, Moscow “will have to take more and more equipment out of storage”. Some soldiers are already being carted around in Soviet-era vehicles; even elite airborne units are using shonky old kit. Russia’s forces, in short, are getting weaker and weaker.

Ukraine’s army, by contrast, is getting stronger and stronger. When Russia first invaded, the West was so pessimistic that it mostly provided Kyiv with only small, handheld weapons. Now we are sending over long-range artillery systems, enhanced air-defence kit, and even – as of last week – high-tech armoured personnel carriers and tanks. In “almost every category”, the Ukrainian army is significantly better equipped today than it was last February. Meanwhile, around 20,000 Ukrainians have now completed advanced training in Nato countries, with many more set to do the same this year. Be in no doubt: “Ukraine has most of the advantages that typically decide a war.”