After yesterday's Ramstein-3, where NATO countries agreed to provide Ukraine with additional weapons, two topics are being actively discussed in the Ukrainian media.
- The first one: the help is adequate, we ourselves had to better prepare for the war, and now one should not look a gift horse in the mouth.
- The second one: the top five countries in terms of economy supplied Kyiv with fewer guns during the six months of the war than the Russian Federation alone (competing in terms of GDP with Mexico and Turkey) — in two gutta-percha republics "DPR" and "LPR".
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.
What West is preparing for Ukraine
Ukraine got a new $1 billion aid package from the United States.
We will get an M-777 howitzer battalion (18 guns) with tactical trucks to them, guided missiles, two Harpoon ground launchers, and 36,000 155-mm shells.
Already at this stage, it was clear that there were hidden positions in it — because 145 M-777 for India cost $800 million.
Probably additional M142 HIMARS are hidden somewhere in there, leaked as available in an option via the Washington Post — 8 vehicles.
With the previous four ones and packages from Britain and Germany, this is already up to 20 units of long-range MLRS.
Are there enough weapons for Kyiv
All of the mentioned above is fairly a lot, because it is not only logistics from another continent and wagons of rocket ammunition, it is also digital secured communications (whereas we are still at square one in terms of land armament).
This is target indication, reconnaissance, a bank of targets, training and interaction of uncoordinated, mobilized crews who are not familiar with the equipment.
All this is money, and substantial one: insurance, air missions, translators, work of satellites, creation of a bank of targets, and shipment of counter-battery radars in past packages.
Just to get into the red zone and not get hit by Smerches or ballistic missiles, one will need to bother, in the case of routine work to suppress batteries.
And not the last role in these operations will be played by Western intelligence, logistics, and training infrastructure.
Weapons will not come quickly
Timing is important: the Polish order for HIMARS worth $414 billion is a division set in three years. In 2023, it will come, may God give, in 2024, it will be mastered. Not in a month after the next summit of donor countries.
There is also a risk: to supply the equipment immediately in quantities and burn it through at numerous stages from the railway stations to reaching the fighting position.
Because the greater the stream of aid, the greater the risk of a slip-up during the logistics cycle. This will be a blow not only to the lobby for the early arming of Ukraine in the West, but also to morale within Ukraine.
Judging by the fact that light titanium "three axes" are supplied here, and not seven-ton M-198s from storage (although there are more of them, there are more spare parts and barrels in case of a war of attrition), the Alliance takes this moment into account.
The possibility to deliver the gun not only on a gun house or railway platform, but also on a trailer by undeveloped road network.
South Korean Harpoons and German Mars
Plus, there are a lot of nuances, as is always the case with weapons contracts. Only South Korea now has land-based Harpoons, and their production will last at least until autumn.
Even if we simultaneously train crews on them, for example, on Danish installations already given to Kyiv, I can hardly imagine that they will be on combat duty before winter.
The production cycle of modern weapons stuffed with electronics is 6-8-12 months easily.
The German multiple launch rocket system Mars has a firmware only for unitary warheads — Germany signed a treaty on the non-use of cluster munitions.
Reflashing will take more than one week, and for the counter-battery fight we need clusters to choke enemy batteries.
In the meantime, replacement barrels, spare parts, and combat damage repairs are already needed for previous deliveries.
Dangerous logistics and donor cells in Germany
In general, there are purely military nuances. It’s like it’s stupid to ask Europe for a thousand towed artillery, when Germany has zero in stock, and Britain and Germany together have at best 160 self-propelled guns.
And, even if the United States opens its bins with the M-198, then demothballing, training of crews, delivery by ships, "transshipment" in Poland, and coordination within divisions and brigades will take several months. Moreover, large shipments of heavy equipment via the railway will be extremely vulnerable, and our ports are blocked.
So there is systematic work taking into account the realities. At the moment — to create reconnaissance-fire groups, "fire brigades" that will knock out enemy artillery and bring the rear at the forefront of Russian attacks to its knees.
In parallel, the Alliance has formed "cells for coordinating international donors" on the territory of Germany, which are engaged in the search for ammunition of Soviet calibers and consumables for equipment so that we do not sag in terms of opportunities here and now.
Could Ukraine have got better and faster aid
Could the collective West help Ukraine more, spend an average of at least 2% on defense and supply us with weapons, at least like the Russian Federation for the so-called "DPR"? Just like we could build a projectile factory, finish capsule depots, and relocate industry to the West.
But what's the point of talking about it now?
For a long generation, Europe lived in a reality where the enemy was Libya and Mali, and with Russia it was necessary to exchange raw materials for services and technologies. Where Italy, Germany, Britain, and France had fewer tanks than Ukraine, because they relied on the Air Force.
The U.S. knows very well, especially from the experience of Afghanistan and Iraq, that one can't Ctrl+C military supplies and Ctrl+V them on allied armies to complete missions.
Russia's stocks of artillery are higher than those of the United States, and non-trivial efforts are needed to deprive them of this trump card in the East of Ukraine.
The battalion of heavy rocket systems and up to 300 guns of various calibers is only the first stage in the plan implementation, the purpose of which is to strengthen the counterbattery activities and recover Ukraine's losses in the first months of the campaign.
Do we need faster and more? Yes. Will we be able to prepare and provide all the infrastructure and personnel serving hundreds of guns? Far from a fact.
Therefore, in our case, fast means slowly, but constantly.