(Washington) The balancing act of the United States, which is providing considerable military aid to Ukraine while doing everything to prevent the conflict from spreading to other countries, is becoming increasingly difficult to hold, at the moment where the images of abuses attributed to the Russian army are multiplying.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, the United States has flooded Ukraine with light weaponry, such as shoulder-carried Javelin anti-tank missiles, but has consistently refused to hand over weapons. heavy armaments, including fighter jets, arguing that this “could be perceived as one-upmanship” and increase the risk of a nuclear conflict with Russia.
And they regularly invoke American technologies that are unfamiliar to Ukrainians to justify the limited range of weaponry they supply, instead appealing to former Soviet bloc countries that still have Russian-made weaponry.
But after the military setbacks by the Russian military and the war crimes attributed to it, the Pentagon finds itself under pressure from elected officials, Republicans and Democrats alike, to do more to help Kyiv push back against Russia.
It seems to me that our strategy often seems a little schizophrenic: we want the Ukrainians to win against Russia, but we fear that losing Putin will cause an escalation.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal at a congressional hearing of top US military officials
“Do we wonder if Vladimir Putin ever feared that his massacres of women and children would be an escalation,” added Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, regretting in particular that the Pentagon did not facilitate the delivery of MIG-29 in Kyiv.
Training and logistics
Apart from a closure of the airspace ensured by NATO with the risk of direct confrontation with the Russian air force, the Pentagon’s options are in fact limited: the heavy armaments of the United States are not compatible with those available to the Ukrainian army, and training Ukrainian soldiers in their handling would remove them from the battlefield for several weeks, when a major Russian assault is being prepared against the regions of Donbass that Moscow does not control.
The Abrams tanks, for example, are powered by a very fuel-intensive turboshaft engine that requires enormous logistical support, and targeting them with lasers requires extensive training, the Pentagon says.
The A-10 ‘Warthog’ fighter jet, which Blumenthal cited as a possible addition to military aid to Ukraine, is known for its resilience and ability to return to base with heavy damage. But the pilots should be trained for several weeks and, above all, a whole supply chain should be created to ensure its maintenance.
In response to criticism from elected officials, the White House published an exhaustive list of the equipment supplied to Ukraine so far: 1,400 Stingers anti-aircraft systems, 5,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, 7,000 other anti-tank weapons, several hundred Switchblade kamikaze drones, 7,000 assault rifles, 50 million bullets and various ammunition, 45,000 batches of bullet-proof vests and helmets, laser-guided rockets, Puma drones, anti-artillery and anti-drone radars, light armored vehicles, secure communication systems, anti-mine protection.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby took offense to the criticism.
“The idea that we’re not doing enough fast enough irritates us deeply,” he said.
Since arriving in the White House, President Joe Biden has released $2.4 billion for military assistance to Kyiv, “which is almost as much as Ukraine’s defense budget”, he said. -he adds.
Recalling that in addition to the armaments supplied to Kyiv, the United States increased its military personnel in Europe from 80,000 to 100,000 in mid-February and sent a Patriot anti-aircraft battery to Slovakia to compensate for the Russian-made system S -300 that Bratislava handed over to Kyiv, Kirby said the effort was “unprecedented”.
“No other country has the logistics to do this. No other country has the resources to do this,” he noted. “At the same time, we keep in mind that Russia is a nuclear power. »