Putin is forcing Ukraine to join NATO in the sense of fighting with mostly NATO weapons systems, cooperating with NATO defense forces at the highest levels. If Putin meant to keep NATO out of Ukraine, he took a very stupid path in the attempt to achieve that goal.
Eventually, Ukraine will be flying F-16s or Eurofighter Typhoons, and fighting with NATO armored vehicles and advanced drones and long range antiaircraft batteries. Ukraine is already receiving 155 mm howitzers with ammunition stockpiles.
Another $800 million in security assistance is headed to Ukraine, the Pentagon announced yesterday. This is the 8th drawdown package announced, which is gear pulled from existing U.S. military stock. Included in this package are 72 155 mm howitzers, 144,000 artillery rounds, 121 Phoenix Ghost unmanned aerial systems and vehicles with which to tow the howitzers.
The Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial System, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby, is a system developed by the Air Force in response to Ukrainian requirements.
“Phoenix Ghost is a tactical, unmanned aerial system … [it] provides similar capabilities to the Switchblade series of unmanned systems — similar capabilities, but not exact,” said Kirby. At this time he was not willing to elaborate further on the capabilities of the Phoenix Ghost.
The Phoenix Ghost system, he said, will likely require minimal training for Ukrainian users who are already experienced in operating other UASs.
“We’re going to be working through those training requirements directly with the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” he said.
Last week the U.S. announced it would ship 18 howitzers to Ukraine, along with 40,000 artillery shells to go with them. The U.S. will now ship 72 additional howitzers to Ukraine and 144,000 additional shells. That brings the total number of howitzers to 90.
“These additional 72 howitzers will help basically fit out five more … artillery battalions for the Ukrainians,” Kirby said. “This was … very much in keeping with their needs, specifically in the Donbas, and the kind of fighting that has already started there and we expect to continue over days and weeks ahead.”
The latest security assistance package also includes 72 tactical vehicles which can be used to tow the howitzers.A Necessary Transition to NATO Weapons Systems
Russian Weapons Performance in Ukraine Reflects Badly
Cynically speaking, wars are advertisements for the weapons systems in use by the different sides in the conflict. Russian weapons systems have not performed well against NATO nations’ weapons systems over the past few decades, but Russian weapons are cheap! Nations such as India or Iran tend to focus on cost, for various reasons including corruption and economic limitations.
Ukraine is not a wealthy nation and cannot really afford large quantities of NATO level weapons, but it is worth it to NATO nations to supply Ukraine with firepower if it means that Putin’s imperial dreams of conquest can be contained and limited — and eventually thrown back in his face.
Deadly Drones in Ukraine: Impact on Russia
The Russians believed that the war would be over in short order and that their forces would quickly sweep the Ukrainians aside. Therefore, they foolishly didn’t bring many air assets to bear. Once they began to bog down due to much stiffer Ukrainian resistance, they tried to bring their air defense units and logistical support up on roads that were jammed packed with vehicles. They proved to be easy pickings for Ukrainian drones that took many of them out before they could be used by Russian front-line units.
There have been reports that the Ukrainians used a TB2 drone as a decoy that helped them sink the Russian cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea. It appears that the TB2 was used as a spotter to help target the Moskva with Neptune anti-ship missiles.Drones in Ukraine
Attack drones have been used for surveillance, for coordinating artillery attacks, and as attack weapons themselves. As more and more advanced drones are brought to the front on the side of Ukrainian forces, new uses will be found for them.
Black Sea Must Be Cleared of Russian Ships
Both the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov must be cleared of Russian ships to allow for better resupply of NATO weapons systems to Ukrainian troops in the southern ports. Drones alone will not be sufficient to accomplish this, but the combination of capable attack drones with advanced anti-ship missiles from Norway should accomplish much of this necessary task. Likewise, Russian oil shipments from Black Sea Ports will be stopped using various unconventional means, in a tit for tat manner in response to Russian scorched Earth genocide in Ukraine.