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Soldiers in Ukraine eagerly await American weapons

Without American support, Ukraine’s defenses would crumble. The situation on the Ukrainian front line is dramatic, an artillery officer explains.

As well-supplied Russian troops fire away, Ukrainian soldiers are bombarded. Fighter jets bomb Ukrainian positions with glide bombs fired from far behind the front lines, beyond the reach of Ukrainian air defenses.

“Without artillery ammunition, any front is doomed to failure,” an artillery officer in eastern Ukraine told DW on condition of anonymity. “The losses will increase because it is not possible to respond appropriately with firepower to firepower.”

“At some point we will find ourselves in a situation where no one can defend the front, where everyone is dead or wounded,” the officer said. That would mean ‘the loss of positions and a crumbling front’.

The officer’s assessment is shared by observers. “The Russians are taking advantage of their advantage and advancing slowly but steadily in several sectors of the front,” Fredrick W. Kagan of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in a blog post in April, as the American Congress worked out the details of a military aid package for allies.

“Since the beginning of this year, Russian forces have seized more than 220 square miles — an area the size of Detroit,” Kagan wrote.

‘Very real risk’

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in 2022, Ukraine has been dependent on significant stockpiles of weapons and ammunition from international backers.

“There is a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024, or at least put Putin in a position where he can dictate the terms of a political settlement.” This forces an opportunity to “hang in there,” CIA Director William Burns said Thursday in comments published in the US media ahead of Saturday’s vote by Congress to send a package of military aid to Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel.

Eyes on Washington

Ukrainian pilots have been training to fly American F-16 fighter jets since 2023 – far longer than NATO expected would be necessary.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force declined to answer in detail about progress in training pilots to fly F-16s in NATO member states Romania, the United Kingdom and France. “This is a very sensitive issue,” the spokesperson told DW in a written response.

Christopher Cavoli, the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, said Ukrainian pilots often struggled with English. He is also concerned about what he sees on the Ukrainian front. “I can’t predict the future, but I can do simple math,” he said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on April 10. shoot and the other side can’t shoot back, the side that can’t shoot back loses.”

Putin strives for victory

Ukraine has achieved some successes. In April, troops announced they had shot down a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber for the first time. In addition, radar positions on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow uses to organize the supply of its troops in southern Ukraine, were hit again.

These victories are overshadowed by the Russian attack, mainly from the air, on cities such as Cherniv, about 70 kilometers northeast of Kiev, and the frequent bombardment of Kharkov, on the border with Russia.

After a visit to the front, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, reported on Telegram that Russia is focusing on “breaking through our defenses west of Bakhmut, gaining access to the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas Canal, capturing the establishment of Chasiv Yar and creating the conditions for further progress towards the greater Kramatorsk area.

Drones are not enough

Chasiv Yar is located on a hill with a strategic advantage for the Ukrainian forces. According to Syrskyi, Putin has ordered his troops to capture the settlement by May 9, when the Russian president marks the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

Nico Lange, who served as chief of staff to Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer until the current governing coalition took power in 2022, wrote on the social media network X that Ukraine “cannot hold the front line in the east; it can only delay the fight’. Russian attacks.”

That meant using drones loaded with explosives. But “drones are not a substitute for artillery,” the officer in eastern Ukraine told DW. The deciding factor, he said, is whether and how quickly he and his colleagues could receive ammunition and other supplies.