Should European military support for Ukraine be increased?

Very few, even among the best informed, had imagined that after 5 weeks of combat, the Russian Special Military Operation would be so contained by the Ukrainian defenders, and that the Russian armies would have suffered material and human losses as well. important. However, today, despite its extraordinary firepower and air force, it is the Russian army that goes into a defensive position on many fronts, and even retreats in the face of certain Ukrainian counter-attacks, especially around Kyiv. However, this perception given both by the Western media and by the very effective Ukrainian war communication does not allow us to understand the real difficulties which the Ukrainian armies are facing today which, if they have combatants who are now seasoned and large numbers, sees its reserves of heavy equipment inexorably reduced, where the Russian forces have quantities of supernumerary equipment, and a National Guard ready to fill the human losses.

In this context, we understand why President Zelensky, despite the recent successes recorded by his armies, continues to carry out intense diplomatic activity in an attempt to end the conflict through negotiation, even if it means granting Russia claims hitherto excluded. , such as the renunciation of NATO membership, the recognition of Crimea and the negotiation of an autonomous status for Donbass. As a much wiser head of state than a number of improvised commentators specializing in the matter on social networks, including in Ukraine moreover, Zelensky knows that today the Russian armies can apply a defensive strategy against which he would be very difficult to fight, and which could ultimately cost Ukraine its army and then its independence. In other words, today, and counter-intuitively, it is indeed the Kremlin, and not Kyiv, which is in a position of strength for the current negotiations. However, there is an alternative to renouncing Ukrainian territory which would ultimately only be the recognition of an immense strategic victory for Putin, even at the cost of several tens of thousands of his soldiers and several thousand combat vehicles. Indeed, if the Europeans were to increase their military support for Ukraine, the balance of power, even in an offensive strategy, could effectively swing in favor of the Ukrainians. In this article, we will study these alternatives from Europe, but also their risks in terms of extending the conflict, as well as their consequences on the post-war security situation on the old continent vis-à-vis Russia.

Ukrainian losses in terms of heavy equipment are very probably structurally underestimated by the OSINT community, while the country does not have the capacity to reconstitute its inventory, unlike Russia

While media and political attention has long been focused on the hypothesis of a delivery of Polish Mig-29 fighters to Ukraine, it is now necessary to note that in the present operational context, it is is probably one of the facilities with the worst risk-benefit ratio for Ukraine and Europeans. Indeed, it is now clear that the whole Ukrainian sky is locked by the anti-aircraft defenses of both sides, and that fighter and assault aviation can only play a superficial role in the conduct of operations military. What is more, if it is a question of giving Ukraine offensive capabilities, new combat aircraft would have little effectiveness against the defensive system that the Russians will not have failed to put in place to defend their positions. On the other hand, the Ukrainian armies would largely benefit from an increase in firepower, mobility and protection, by receiving new armored vehicles from Europe.

It should be remembered that if the documented losses today mainly refer to Russian equipment, this in no way prejudges the real Ukrainian losses in this field, because the soldiers and the Russian communication are much more parsimonious in their publications on the public scene than the fighters and the Ukrainian population. In other words, without questioning the reality of Russian losses, one can objectively doubt the relative weakness of Ukrainian losses in terms of armor or anti-aircraft defense for example as reported by OSINT analysts, who elsewhere warn themselves about this analytical bias. In addition, as mentioned earlier, Russia has a much larger reserve of equipment than Ukraine has, as well as a military-industrial complex unaffected by the fighting, even if it would seem that the sanctions western handicaps this production. In other words, in the game of reciprocal attrition, Russia has much stronger backbone than an isolated Ukraine fighting on its own soil. And it is precisely here that the support of Europeans can prove to be decisive.

After 5 weeks of war, the Russian armies have lost between 10 and 15% of their manpower and equipment within the ground and airborne forces. A significant part of these losses affects elite units of the Russian army.

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