Ukraine: Is Europe starting to change its strategy?

Feb 7, 2024

nato Generals are preparing themselves for the increased risk of war Russia And are calling for investment in prevention. ukraine This can also be beneficial.
Several high-ranking NATO military officials recently warned each other that the alliance needs to prepare itself for conflict with Russia.
“We have to understand that it is not certain that we are at peace,” the Dutch admiral said. rob bauerThe chairman of the NATO Military Committee gave the warning at a press conference after a two-day meeting in late January.
Against the backdrop of Russia's large-scale attack on Ukraine, which began two years ago this month, the Oslo daily newspaper Dagbladet reported that the head of the Norwegian Armed Forces, General Erik Christophersen, said there was now “a window of maybe two or three “In years like these we will have to invest even more in security defense.” Meanwhile, Mikael Biden, commander-in-chief of the armed forces in neighboring Sweden, also urged his compatriots and politicians to “move from understanding to action.” Did.
Military leaders appeal to politicians
Experts see it as an appeal from military leaders to European politicians for a change in strategy in the conflict with Russia. In an interview with DW, German security expert Nico Lang commented that hopes for a quick end to the war in Ukraine have not been realized due to sanctions against Western arms supplies on the one hand and Russia's war economy on the other.
Most of all, military leaders and analysts are concerned about both the shortage of ammunition and new military equipment and the existing weapons production capabilities in Europe.
In this regard, NATO's military deterrence capability is closely linked to supplies to Ukraine. Last year, the EU promised to deliver one million shells to Ukraine by March. That promise was not fulfilled. According to Lange – an expert on Ukraine and Russia who also works for the Munich Security Conference – one reason was that the German government was too late to issue underwriting guarantees to manufacturers.
“They're doing it now, two years later,” says Lang. Yet Ukraine is not the only country in urgent need of these supplies. The ammunition depots of NATO countries have also been exhausted.
Investment in drones, ammunition, combat vehicles
In a worst-case scenario, Lange says, NATO has only five years to upgrade its weapons to ensure it can still successfully deter a potential Russian attack on NATO territory. An analysis by Christian Mölling, head of the Center for Security and Defense at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), attracted a lot of attention in late 2023 when he pointed this out.
In a recent analysis, Gustav Gressel of the Berlin-based think tank European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) wrote, “The West and Europeans in particular need to reform their financial regulations and radically incentivize the production of drones.” There is a need to create economies of scale.” , ammunition, armored fighting vehicles, and much more.”
Gressel says that the strategy of supplying Ukraine with familiar, Soviet-made weapons primarily from the reserves of Eastern European states is reaching its end because there is no longer anything left. He warned that arms production would have to be massively increased for both Ukraine and European NATO countries.
Strategic withdrawal from the free zone?
In this second winter of the war in Ukraine, the attention of military leaders and analysts has focused primarily on Ukraine's inferiority in artillery battles with Russia. Russia appears to have been able to bridge its apparent gap with supplies from North Korea, while Ukraine has been forced to reduce the amount of ammunition.
In a recent podcast of the “War on the Rocks” series, the analyst Michael Kaufman The American Center for Naval Analyzes (CNA) said that Russia had “established a five-to-one fire advantage across the front” – that is, five Russian missiles were launched for every Ukrainian shell. More pessimistic analyzes put the ratio at 10-to-1.
Kaufman believes it is possible that the Ukrainians will have to withdraw from the disputed town of Avdiivka on the eastern front. The city of Kupyansk to the north is also at risk of a major Russian attack.
In a recent radio interview, Christian Molling of the DGAP said that it has become clear that the delays over the past two years in the supply of ammunition and military equipment to Ukraine mean that it must now withdraw from the liberated areas. .
However, ahead of the summit of Western military experts at the Munich Security Conference next week, Nico Lang believes we are seeing the beginning of a change in strategy. This, he says, was inspired by an analysis of the military situation in Ukraine and by Western military personnel, who also have an eye on their own military's arsenal requirements.
In an interview with the newspaper group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, German Major General Christian Freyding stressed the importance of “long-term structured capacity building of the Ukrainian armed forces, which we are now addressing.”
Indeed, Ukrainian armed forces are also reporting success, despite Russia's advantage, with targeted airstrikes on Russian radar sites, bases and supply routes in Crimea and southern Ukraine.
In early February, Ukraine's commander-in-chief, Valery Zaluzny, wrote in an analysis for CNN: “The important thing is that these unmanned systems – such as drones – along with other types of advanced weapons, provide the best way “Let's avoid Ukraine getting into a positional war where we don't have the advantage.” For the more than 50 countries supporting Ukraine, led by the United States, this means supplying more high-tech weapons than ever before.
The United States has responded to the call by supplying so-called GLSDB precision bombs to Zaluzhnye troops since early February. Made by Boeing-Saab, they have a range of 150 kilometers (about 90 miles), putting the Russian military's main supply route – the coastal strip between Crimea and the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol – within reach of Ukraine. Lange confirmed to DW, citing security sources, that this was indeed the case. Kiev has been waiting for these precision weapons for more than a year.
Lange says some things are moving in Ukraine's direction but it remains to be seen whether Europe's politicians will embrace this change pushed by Western and Ukrainian military strategists. Because they are the ones who will ultimately have to supply weapons to Ukraine for years to come, as well as ensure financial support for increasing European arms production.

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