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10 Feb, 2024 10:14

Ukraine at risk of ‘cascading frontline collapse’ – NYT

Without US support, Kiev will soon struggle to repel Russian airstrikes and ground assaults, the report says
Ukraine at risk of ‘cascading frontline collapse’ – NYT

Ukraine’s worsening lack of ammunition and battle fatigue will most likely force Kiev to abandon its current frontline positions unless it receives new aid from the West, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The paper said that Ukrainian defenses near the key stronghold of Avdeevka in Russia’s Donetsk Region are reeling under relentless attacks, and Kiev’s problems extend beyond one single battle.

Ukrainian troops, the Times added, are exhausted and suffer from a lack of weapons and ammunition, especially with regard to air defense systems. According to unnamed US officials interviewed by the outlet, Kiev only has enough air defense assets to last until March, unless it receives new shipments.

This is far from certain, as the US – Ukraine’s main backer – is locked in congressional gridlock over President Joe Biden’s request to approve a $118 billion security bill, $60 billion of which is earmarked for Kiev. Many Republicans have been reluctant to support the measure, claiming it does too little to improve security on the border with Mexico.

Western officials believe that without US aid, “a cascading collapse along the front is a real possibility” in 2024, the article says. Nevertheless, they reportedly estimate that it will take at least a couple of months for the shortages to take a toll.

According to analysts, by March, Ukraine could be struggling to carry out local counterattacks, and by summer, Kiev could find it difficult to repel Russian assaults. Without continued US support, NYT sources say “it’s hard to see how Ukraine will be able to maintain its current positions on the battlefield.”

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly complained of a shortage of ammunition, calling it “a very real and pressing problem.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing a senior EU official, that “It will not be easy for the Europeans to substitute for the US” in terms of military assistance.

Last year, the EU announced an ambitious plan to provide Ukraine with 1 million shells by the spring of 2024. However, the bloc has struggled to deliver on this pledge, with top EU diplomat Josep Borrell saying Kiev will receive only half of that amount by March.

Russia has repeatedly condemned Western arms shipments to Ukraine, warning that they will only prolong the conflict without changing the ultimate outcome.

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