Ukraine is turning into a grinding war of attrition like the bloody battlefronts of World War I, leading to mass civilian and military casualties.
But one thing is certain… Russia is finished. The war now is a matter of resolve.
It’s come down to how many ill-equipped and ill-trained conscripts Vladimir Putin is willing to throw into the fight and how quickly Ukraine can kill them in a ground slugfest.
It’s time for the West to step up with long-range missiles and ground attack aircraft to give Ukraine the ability to strike deep behind the lines, choke off supplies to Russian forces and lead to mass surrenders before the carnage can begin again in the spring.
An army needs a logistics tail to fight; without one it will collapse in a matter of weeks.
“You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics,” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of allied forces in World War II once said.
Alexander the Great put it more succinctly: “My logisticians are a humorless lot . . . they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.”
Ukraine has been effective on a tactical level denying Russian troops ammo and supplies, but it’s lacked the strategic punch to make a material difference in the war.
At the moment, Russia has lost all strategic momentum. It’s army and equipment are depleted to the point it has no prospect of regaining the initiative, much less subjugating Ukraine.
Russia is only fighting on because Putin refuses to accept defeat and has no conscience. He’s willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of Russian boys in a desperate attempt to save face with a fanciful belief that Ukraine will capitulate.
His war crimes are reaching Hitlerian proportions. He’ll be like the Führer, fighting on from his bunker with phantom armies while the slaughter goes on.
The Biden administration and others have stopped short of arming Ukraine with deadly, long-range weapons because they fear Russia will view it as an escalation.
But the war moved passed that point once Russia began raining cruise missiles on civilian targets. The barrages have no practical effect on the front.
They are nothing more than a reign of terror not seen since the London blitzkrieg in World War II. Russian propagandists have acknowledged as much in their nightly television rants.
Russian forces are also targeting critical infrastructure to leave millions of people without electricity when temperatures drop below freezing during the Ukrainian winter.
Russian strategists fail to understand the London bombings strengthened British resolve and the same is happening now.
Tragically, the aerial attacks won’t alter the course of the war. They will simply result in the needless deaths of innocent men, women, children and the elderly far from the front.
Arming Ukraine with long-range strategic weapons will wreak havoc behind Russian lines, cripple the army’s ability to fight, shorten the war considerably and reduce casualties on both sides.
Ukraine needs the ability to bring the entire theater of war into range. That means the ability to strike deeply into Russian held territory, far out into the Black Sea, and if necessary, into Russia itself.
The United States intends to supply Ukraine with so-called “Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB)” missiles with a range of up to 100 kilometers. The weapons are flexible, cheap, deadly accurate and the U.S. already has 17,000 in its arsenal.
It’s precision guided within a meter of its target and comes with multipurpose penetrating blast and fragmentation warheads for hard and soft targets. It’s programmable electronic fuse also gives it ground penetrating capability.
But the West should go beyond that and add three other weapons to Ukraine’s arsenal.
The United States has rebuffed requests for the 185-mile (297km) range ATACMS missile that can be fired from HIMARs already in Ukraine’s inventory. It should make those missiles available immediately.
The AGM-158C (LRASM) is an anti-ship missile, with a range of up to 200 nautical miles. The AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) has a range that varies from 370- to 1,000-kilometers. Both have stealth capabilities and pack a punch.
Those missiles would easily bring into range the Kerch Bridge, a major supply link for Russian troops, the Sevastopol harbor where its Black Sea fleet is based and military ports in Krasnodar Krai and Rostov Oblast.
Ukraine would also have the ability to target Russian air bases where strategic bombers are kept. The bombers are launching cruise missiles into Ukraine from Russian territory.
That means Ukraine must have jets, preferably U.S. F-16s, that are capable of launching the missiles.
Ukraine also needs more close-air support. The A-10 Thunderbolt II could fill that role and hasten the end of the war. It was designed to knock out Soviet tanks in Europe during the Cold War.
The United States has surpluses of both aircraft.
The meaningless suffering has gone on long enough with no prospect of it ending so long as Putin is in power. The only alternative is to make it impossible for Russia to continue the fight.
That should be the new goal of Western armaments. And, they should be supplied quickly to send a message about Western resolve to end the war.
The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb missile in action.