press release
Published: 21 May 2024

Commentary: Countries supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia are at a crossroad

The following expert comment below was written by Dr Joshua Andresen, Associate Professor of National Security and Foreign Relations Law at the University of Surrey, about his views on the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine.

Josh Andresen
Dr Joshua Andresen

"As Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine is now firmly in its third year, Russia’s material advantages are taking a gradual toll on both the Ukrainian military and civilian population. 

"From a military perspective, Ukraine’s greatest challenge is manpower, where in most places along the front line, they are outnumbered between 7 and 10 to 1. Compounding the manpower shortage have been shortages in ammunition, defensive fortifications, air defences, and logistic challenges to maintain the vast array of weapons systems they have been given over the last two years. 

"The recently approved mobilisation law in Ukraine and the military aid package in the U.S. are much needed and long overdue. Nevertheless, they will not equalise the fight with Russia, let alone give Ukraine a material advantage. With Russia reopening the front around Kharkiv in the northeast, Ukrainian forces will be stretched even thinner, and air defence systems in short supply will become even more essential. 

"Although Ukrainian forces have consistently shown their greater quality, the current level of support will not enable them to achieve more than a frozen conflict more or less along the current front times. 

"The coalition of countries supporting Ukraine is thus at another crossroads. Suppose there is to be any chance of driving Russia from Ukrainian territory. In that case, those countries need to seriously rethink their own production and supply of critical air defence systems to Ukraine, Ukraine’s ability to target Russian forces and military infrastructure at greater distances, and—perhaps most of all—how to sure up Ukraine’s manpower disadvantage, perhaps with troops of their own. A failure to do these things will not only result in the loss of Ukrainian sovereign territory but also the effective appeasement of Russia. It will send the broader message that the West is not prepared to stand up to unlawful aggression and open the door to more “special military operations” against our allies."

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