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19 Feb, 2024 11:26

US and allies trying to avoid Ukrainian military collapse – Politico

Kiev’s worsening prospects on the battlefield and uncertainty over new funding have dominated the Munich Security Conference
US and allies trying to avoid Ukrainian military collapse – Politico

The Ukrainian military’s worsening prospects on the battlefield have prompted Western officials to call for more US military aid at the Munich Security Conference, Politico reported on Sunday.

American lawmakers failed to approve additional funding of $60 billion for Kiev before the winter recess, but discussions about the package are set to resume later this month.

The latest plan is just to keep the Ukrainian military from collapsing, Politico reported, citing several US politicians and foreign officials who attended the three-day forum last week.

“Many sidestepped the question of what a Ukrainian victory would look like, or when it might happen,” the outlet wrote, claiming that they also sounded far from certain about what a victory might look like for Ukraine – even with a multi-billion-dollar aid boost.

US Senator Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the aid package would be a “game changer” for Ukraine. However, he declined to say whether this support would ensure a Ukrainian victory, simply stating that US assistance was Kiev’s last, best hope.

“I am not aware of any other way for, in the short term, the Ukrainians to get the arms and ammunition and tools they need, other than from the United States,” Warner said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said at a news conference with US Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday that the aid package was vital for Kiev.

“We do not currently look into alternatives because we are counting on the United States as our strategic partner,” Zelensky said. Harris confirmed that there was no Plan B in the event that American lawmakers fail to greenlight the package. “There’s only Plan A,” she added.

Moscow has repeatedly condemned Western arms supplies to Ukraine, saying they only prolong the conflict without changing the outcome.

Western and Ukrainian politicians have been expressing concerns over the worsening situation on the battlefield since Zelensky admitted in December that Kiev’s long-planned summer counteroffensive had failed to gain any substantial ground.

Western officials reportedly warned that, without US support, “a cascading collapse along the front is a real possibility” in 2024. The warnings intensified after Zelensky sacked the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valery Zaluzhny, earlier this month. Kiev’s newly appointed top military commander, Aleksandr Syrsky, has also acknowledged that the frontline situation is “difficult.”

On Saturday, Russian forces liberated the key town of Avdeevka, inflicting heavy casualties on Ukrainian troops – eliminating up to 1,500 in a single day, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense. Located several kilometers to the north of Donetsk, Avdeevka has been a major stronghold for Ukrainian troops in Donbass, as well as one of the key staging points for repeated artillery and missile strikes on the Russian city.

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