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Will Ukraine win the war against Russia? What difference will the Leopard 2 tanks make?

Ukraine could win the war against Russia this year but may not be able to because Western military support is “too little and too late,” a military expert said today.

JUSTIN BRONK, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, analyzed the latest situation in an article for MailOnline today as Ukraine prepares for a crucial spring and summer offensive.

It comes as Germany has finally agreed to supply Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2 tanks, after the decision was delayed for months. An announcement from the US is expected later today.

Bronk said if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops can field new armored vehicles by early spring, they could make “decisive breakthroughs” against Russia without suffering “crippling infantry losses.”

The expert said Ukraine has a chance of winning the war in 2023, but “if it can’t seize it because Western support comes too little, too late’, then ‘the opportunity may not come again’.

JUSTIN BRONK, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, analyzed the latest situation in an article for MailOnline today as Ukraine prepares for a crucial spring and summer offensive

After nearly two months of brutal but more geographically limited battles in Ukraine, both sides appear to be joining forces for new offensives.

Russian troops have lost many thousands killed and wounded in repeated attacks on the towns of Soledar and Bakhmut.

They have used heavy artillery and infantry strikes to force slow, extremely costly advances across muddy trenches with shells that are in many ways similar to World War I.

But Ukraine has also suffered heavy losses defending these areas of the Donbas, but nevertheless one of the key elements of both sides’ strategies has been to try to limit the number of troops they deploy.

Ukraine ended 2022 with two resoundingly successful counter-offensives, in the north and south. In the north, Kharkiv Oblast was liberated, along with the cities of Kupiansk, Izyum, and Lyman.

Meanwhile, in the south, most of the Kherson region was liberated, including the capital, as the Russian army was crushed and eventually forced to withdraw from the western bank of the Dnipro River.

But the effort came at heavy casualties, especially among Ukraine’s elite brigades capable of large-scale mobile offensive operations.

Similarly, Russian casualties have been extremely high, with recent Norwegian intelligence estimates suggesting that around 180,000 Russian troops have been killed, badly wounded or captured since the start of the invasion.

Bronk believes Ukraine could beat Russia this year, but Western support would be vital.  Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers fire on Russian positions near the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region yesterday

Bronk believes Ukraine could beat Russia this year, but Western support would be vital.  Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers fire on Russian positions near the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region yesterday

Bronk believes Ukraine could beat Russia this year, but Western support would be vital. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers fire on Russian positions near the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region yesterday

Smoke rises after shelling in Soledar, site of heavy fighting with Russian troops in Ukraine's Donetsk region

Smoke rises after shelling in Soledar, site of heavy fighting with Russian troops in Ukraine's Donetsk region

Smoke rises after shelling in Soledar, site of heavy fighting with Russian troops in Ukraine’s Donetsk region

That’s why both sides have tried to disrupt each other’s efforts to rebuild their forces this winter with fresh recruits and new equipment, in a bid to be the first to regain the initiative in the spring.

Russia has mobilized about 300,000 new recruits as of the end of September 2022; about half were immediately sent to Ukraine to stabilize the front lines so successfully turned back by Ukrainian forces.

The troops quickly sent there had very little opportunity for training and often very poor equipment, so they suffered terrible losses in winter battles and have poor morale.

However, the other 150,000 or so have been training since September and are receiving tanks, artillery and armored vehicles to form new units.

These will likely be used to mount another Russian attack in February, with a more ambitious goal than the heavy fighting around Bakhmut and Soledar in recent months.

They will not have had time to become good soldiers or professional units, but will be much more capable than the new conscripts thrown into the lines before Christmas.

In addition, Russia is preparing for another wave of mobilization, reportedly aimed at generating up to 500,000 additional recruits for more unit generation.

Russia’s military industry is also being put on a war footing late in response to a severe shortage of ammunition of all types at the front.

Since Putin had no plans for a long war, Russian industry was not mobilized to meet the sudden massive demand until it became clear that things had gone very wrong in Ukraine.

A woman walks in front of a damaged house in Bakhmut, a town where fierce fighting has taken place

A woman walks in front of a damaged house in Bakhmut, a town where fierce fighting has taken place

A woman walks in front of a damaged house in Bakhmut, a town where fierce fighting has taken place

Putin

Putin

Zelensky

Zelensky

Justin Bronk said being able to pilot his new armored vehicles by early spring could enable President Zelensky’s (right-wing) forces to “make decisive breakthroughs.” Putin is pictured on the left

The result is an increasing lack of modern equipment and even artillery ammunition for Russian units at the front and those being trained to form new units.

Now factories are concentrating on building large quantities of fewer types of ammunition, vehicles and weapons, which over time is likely to lead to significantly larger quantities reaching Russian troops.

Ukraine mobilized about 700,000 people when it was invaded last February, and has also spent the winter training and equipping as many people as possible as reinforcements for depleted units and forming new ones.

Equipment is a major bottleneck, however, as much of Ukraine’s own defense industry and economy has been severely damaged by Russian missile strikes.

Western partners have provided vital assistance on a large scale to supply Ukraine’s heroic defensive struggle, with anti-tank missiles, air defense systems, artillery ammunition and the famous HIMARS rocket artillery system among the most important deliveries to date.

What they need now, however, is heavy equipment to take back as much of their stolen territory as possible while Russia is in a weak position.

Russia’s expected offensive in February will fail to defeat Ukraine and is likely to suffer more horrendous losses as relatively poorly trained units attempt to storm Ukrainian lines that have been fortified over the winter.

A German Leopard 2 tank at a German Army demonstration event.  A total of 14 will now be sent to Ukraine

A German Leopard 2 tank at a German Army demonstration event.  A total of 14 will now be sent to Ukraine

A German Leopard 2 tank at a German Army demonstration event. A total of 14 will now be sent to Ukraine

America is expected to provide M2 ​​Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.  Bronk says modern tanks are vital to Ukraine

America is expected to provide M2 ​​Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.  Bronk says modern tanks are vital to Ukraine

America is expected to provide M2 ​​Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. Bronk says modern tanks are vital to Ukraine

The decisive question is how successful Ukraine’s own counter-offensive will be in the spring and summer.

What Ukrainian troops need are hundreds of armored vehicles with firepower that can shield them from artillery fire as they cross the muddy battlefields to attack Russian positions, and main battle tanks and mobile artillery systems to provide fire support and anti-tank thrust.

If enough Ukrainian units can be trained, supplied and supported to operate vehicles such as the US M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle and the German Leopard 2 main battle tank by early spring, they may be able to make decisive breakthroughs against Russian forces without suffering crippling infantry losses. in the process.

This should be the goal of the West – helping the Ukrainian armed forces take back as much of their territory as possible before Russia’s next wave of mobilized conscripts and renewed military industrial production begin to turn into a balance of power in the fall.

If Ukraine is not provided with the heavy equipment and all supporting fuel, maintenance, assault bridging and engineering vehicles to effectively deploy it at large scale by spring, then Russia may be able to force another lingering stalemate that will last well into 2024. persist.

Ukraine has a chance to win the war in 2023, but if it can’t seize it because western support comes too little, too late, the chance may not come again.

For the West, too, a stalemate that drags on into next year and possibly beyond will be far more costly and destabilizing in the long run than providing Ukraine with what it needs to win now.

Ukrainian troops made their way to the front lines yesterday.  Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly asked for modern main battle tanks

Ukrainian troops made their way to the front lines yesterday.  Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly asked for modern main battle tanks

Ukrainian troops made their way to the front lines yesterday. Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly asked for modern main battle tanks

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