Missile launchers, Turkish drones and artillery cannons: Ukraine demands more weapons to regain ground in the war | International

Ukraine’s priorities in the war are clear just by entering the country. On the main access road from Poland, the road connecting Przemysl with Lviv, a propaganda poster in English welcomes the visitor with the following message: “Give Ukraine arms”. The poster is illustrated with two fighter jets in formation. The supply of weapons by its Western allies has been key for Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion. Now he needs more powerful arsenals to regain lost ground.

At the beginning of the invasion, four months ago, at that same point on the highway, there was another sign: “Close the air space.” The Ukrainian authorities demanded that NATO intervene by preventing the flight of Russian aircraft, something that the Atlantic Alliance categorically ruled out due to the danger of triggering a third world war. The conflict evolves and the attacked contender adapts to what his western partners can give him. Because it is not just a matter of providing an anti-aircraft battery or an aircraft, it is necessary to train the soldiers who operate them and, above all, accompany their use with a chain of maintenance that is difficult to guarantee.

Any help seems little in the face of the Russian offensive of attrition, now focused on the Donbas zone in the east, and based on a massive use of its arsenal. Oleksii Melnik, co-director of the Razumkov Center for International Relations and Security Policy Studies, reminds EL PAÍS that the difference in artillery is abysmal: for every ten Russian missiles and howitzers, Ukraine has one. The Economist published last week that in two weeks of war, Russia fires the arsenal that the United States manufactures in a year.

The new icons of Ukrainian orthodoxy are modern weapons such as the US-made Javelin anti-tank rocket. Constantly present in propaganda and war posters, the Javelin is the symbol of the massive destruction of Russian armor by the Ukrainian armed forces – more than 1,600 tanks and 3,800 vehicles, according to the Ministry of Defense. British NLAW anti-tank rocket launchers, noted for their small size, are also used by the defending Army after the Boris Johnson government donated 5,000 units.

Graffiti of a soldier firing a Javelin anti-tank missile on a kyiv street.
Graffiti of a soldier firing a Javelin anti-tank missile on a kyiv street.Christian Segura

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


Another weapon that is already part of Ukrainian popular culture is the Turkish Bayraktar drone. An example of this is that the telephone company Lifecell has filled the country with an advertisement for an internet connection offer that bears the name and image of the drone. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants to maintain ties with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, but at the same time has facilitated the acquisition by Ukraine, since the beginning of the invasion, of fifty Bayraktar units. This unmanned aircraft is the largest Ukrainian aerial firefighting force, responsible for the deadliest attacks on Russian columns of the war. A song dedicated to the drone, which Colonel Taras Borovok composed in early March, has even become famous. The first verses of the song go like this: “The invaders arrived in Ukraine / with their new uniforms and chain of command, / but their inventory melted under the Bayraktar.”

As Russia consolidates its positions on the conquered terrain, long-distance heavy artillery becomes crucial for Ukraine. The weapon currently on everyone’s lips is the Himars, an American high-precision multi-launch rocket system, self-transported, that can reach distances of 80 kilometers – twice the current Ukrainian capacity. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, highlighted last Wednesday in his daily message that the Himars had managed to destroy strategic Russian powder magazines. Four were added to the Ukrainian arsenal last June, according to a report published this July by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). The United States Government has promised to contribute half a dozen more Himars units in the coming weeks. These are totally insufficient figures, according to Zelensky’s team. Mijailo Podoliak, one of the most influential advisers to the president, assured on June 13 that to win the war they would need, among other weapons, 300 multi-launchers like the Himars.

The Pentagon insists that one obstacle with the Himars, and other high-tech machines, is that they require weeks of training for the platoons that operate them and above all a difficult-to-secure supply line for ammunition and components. Thomas Theiner, an Italian military expert on the conflict in Ukraine, and a recognized voice in kyiv, pointed out this week on his social networks that this Ukrainian inferiority is compensated by the better information that his Army has on the location of the objectives, largely thanks to the network of informants he has in the occupied territories. In an article published by the University of Potsdam (Germany) last May, the director of its International Military Studies program, Sönke Neitzel, added that just as or more important than their arsenals was the information that the intelligence services of the United States were providing. States on locating Russian targets.

“For Ukraine, everything that is long-range weapons is fundamental,” General Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of operations of the High Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, commented this Thursday at a press conference. Analyst Melnik believes that the supply of tanks is not as urgent as long-range artillery because they are more vulnerable to Russian superiority and because, in the new phase of the counteroffensive, the Ukrainian authorities want the greatest possible precision of fire to avoid as much as possible. destruction in urban areas. Despite this, presidential adviser Podoliak also included 500 tanks in the ideal list to expel Russian troops from the country.

A Bayraktar drone donated by Lithuania was flown to Ukraine this week.
A Bayraktar drone donated by Lithuania was flown to Ukraine this week.LITHUANIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE (via REUTERS)

Being out of range of Russian fire requires attacking from the farther the better. For this reason, the new references of war are the state-of-the-art self-propelled artillery guns: the German PHZ 2000, the Polish AHS Krab and the French Caesar. The latter were decisive for the Ukrainian reconquest last week of Snake Island, an islet in the strategic Black Sea as a military control point. In the taking of the island, the Himars and the Harpoon anti-ship missiles of the United States were also fundamental, according to the ECFR.

Ukraine has self-made weapons that have proven their effectiveness, especially the Bohdana self-propelled howitzers and the Neptune anti-ship missile, one of the most advanced in the world and with which the flagship of the Russian fleet, the Moscow. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have a hundred S-300 anti-aircraft batteries, originating from the Soviet Union. With these, General Hromov explained, it has been possible to annul 70% of Russian attacks from aircraft.

Air defense for cities

Anti-aircraft systems are the obsession of the Ukrainian government. Zelensky points out practically every day that in order to restore a certain normality in the country’s cities, it is necessary to have mechanisms that intercept Russian cruise missiles. “No matter how warfare evolves on the battlefield, the priority is to secure our skies so women and children can come home.” The best news he has received was the recent White House announcement that it would supply Ukraine with one of the world’s most advanced Norwegian-made air defense systems, NASAMS.

Hromov listed as the last phase in Ukraine’s arms supply getting fighter jets. Negotiations with the United States are slow, although the legal bases have already been laid to train Ukrainian pilots in the flight of F-15 and F-16 planes. NATO members such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany have been reluctant to donate these aircraft for the time being due to the complexity of the operation, the lack of Ukrainian training and the possible violent reaction of Russia beyond Ukraine to some fighters. that would facilitate attacks on their own territory.

Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.

50% off

Exclusive content for subscribers

read without limits

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button