Ukraine received some good news on Sunday when the British government announced that it will provide the arguably superior Man Portable Air Defense System (and you believed MANPADS was related to transsexuals, did you?). This weapon system may be the answer to ensuring that Russian fixed and rotary-winged aircraft are kept off the battlefield. The British-manufactured anti-aircraft missiles are scheduled to be launched in Ukraine for the first time in the war and could heap another humiliation upon Russian President Vladimir Putin for his disastrous military intervention.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told The Mail on Sunday that the Starstreak system is a shoulder-mounted missile, capable of traveling at triple the speed of sound to bring down low-flying enemy jets, and was prepared to be deployed soon.
The US has offered some top-of-the-line equipment. As part of a huge military-aid package announced on Wednesday, the administration of President Joe Biden will provide Ukraine with U.S.-made killer drones, the most advanced guided missiles that can accurately hit Russian troops far away, two congressional officials briefed about the subject told NBC News. The White House referred to the weapons in a fact sheet about the package of aid as “100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems.” NBC News reported exclusively on Tuesday that the move was being considered.
There are two versions of the weapon, the Switchblade 300 and the 600, which have been offered to U.S. Special Operations Command by the manufacturer AeroVironment located near the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The 300 is designed to make precise strikes on people, while the more powerful 600 is designed to take out armored vehicles and tanks. The congressional officials didn't have the specifics of which model will be offered to Ukraine or if both will be provided.
Each of the weapons will be a welcomed addition by the Ukrainian army. Starstreak can bring about Hobbesian (“solitary brutal, solitary, poor and very short”) for planes flying at a distance of less than 15,000 feet. Switchblade could cause havoc to Russian resupply routes or artillery locations. As the conflict moves into a new phase, there are types of weapons NATO would not be willing to provide to Ukraine; however, for those weapons that it's unwilling to offer, it should explain the reasons why.
We recently witnessed a major withdrawal by Russian forces along the northwestern front. The reason is that, as US “officials” like to say, they are not retreating; instead, they're repositioning. The majority of the big-brain analysts in D.C. are putting their faith in the notion that Russia is going to make a major advance into the Donbas and then sue for peace, hoping to hold on to its gains. Perhaps Putin will utilize his position in the Donbas as a distraction to disperse Ukrainian forces out, then launch a second attack on Kyiv. No matter what Putin chooses to pursue, I'm sure the coming weeks will be much like this.
Putin has employed approximately 75 percent of the Russian army's military units during this war. They've been beaten. That's not to say they haven’t caused damage to the Ukrainian army as well as destroyed cities and killed civilians, but the losses of personnel and vehicles have forced these units to become ineffective. The units currently withdrawing into Russia and Belarus will be spending the majority of their time over the course of the next two weeks acquiring new equipment and then integrating new troops into the units. The new soldiers could be veterans from the war; however, they could be members of units that are so exhausted that they've been broken down rather than rebuilt. Or they could be some of the 100,000 reserve soldiers Putin has directed to serve in active service. After reconstruction, they'll be transferred laterally, probably by train or truck, and eventually to the Donbas. Once the units are newly rebuilt, the Donbas recruits (Putin's false republics raised their conscription age to 65) will join new units drafted from other regions of Russia to launch a new offensive. Its goal will be to expand the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk and to build a land bridge to Crimea.
Ukraine will be given two weeks to rest and catch its breath before deciding what it will do to face the challenges. The main challenge will be educating the Ukraine army that it must win in this second stage of conflict and with a decisive victory.
The Ukrainian military is in need of surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems that are able to penetrate Belarus as well as neutralize the power of Russia to conduct attacks from Belarus so that it can take control of its airspace. The military needs to replace tanks and infantry combat vehicles and enable the Ukrainian army to create the flexibility and shock effects needed to take decisive action. Anti-ship missiles are needed to increase the excitement for the Russian Navy. They also require the famous MiG-29s so that the Ukrainian Air Force, in conjunction with SAMs, can achieve superior air power and even air supremacy. Our NATO allies that were previously members of the Warsaw Pact are equipped with SAMs tanks and aircraft that are well known to Ukrainian soldiers and should be ready to be deployed prior to when Russia begins the Phase II offensive.
If you take a close look at the weapons we've given to Ukraine up to now, they've been purely defensive. You can't win a battle based only on defensive weapons; this strategy is an indication only of total defeat when employed to prepare for an offensive. With Javelin, Starstreak, Switchblade, etc., all Ukraine can ever do is stand its ground and watch for Russia to fade away. Each day, the Ukrainian Armed Forces become more and more dependent on foot or civilian vehicles being commandeered.
Over two months have gone by since U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to meet NATO ally Slovakia, when they talked about transferring Slovakia's most modern air-defense system to Ukraine. However, while Russian rockets fall on Ukrainian schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings, there's been no apparent advancement. This means that Congress is getting impatient, and Ukrainians are losing their lives.
Standing alongside Austin on the streets of Bratislava on March 17, Slovakia’s defense minister, Jaroslav Nad, stated that Slovakia was prepared to move the Russian-made S-300 missile defense systems that the Ukrainians have mastered “immediately.” Compared to what the Ukrainian forces currently have, the S-300 can cover more territory and block more advanced missiles and aircraft, potentially saving the lives of many civilians. Nad's main requirement was that the United States should replace Slovakia's S-300 with a missile defense system that is at least at the same level of capability. Austin has not made any firm commitments other than to keep in touch about the issue with NATO partners.
Two weeks later, US lawmakers and Ukrainians are wondering why there is no change. Two other NATO countries with the S-300 system, Bulgaria and Greece, aren't too keen on the idea of providing direct military assistance to Ukraine. Slovakia is now ready. So, what's holding them back?
“The transfer of any system is being closely scrutinized by the White House and National Security Council as to whether or not it meets their test of what's escalatory and what's not,” a senior congressional aide said. “That's causing the system to be constipated.”
Could it be the “afraid to make Putin mad” attitude in the White House, bracing itself for more background information on the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop and the leaked material likely to be in the possession of Putin's FSB (Federal Security Service)?