Video Above: Pentagon Sends Critical MLRS Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to Ukraine
Russia is making gains in Donbas in the Eastern portions of Ukraine, despite massive and intense Ukrainian resistance, a development which is not surprisingly generating new international concern.
Most of all, Ukraine still needs “long-range fires, armor and coastal defense,” according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who addressed the free world at the third meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Austin was clear that despite the massive international effort thus far, Ukraine still needs more.
“After failing to take Kyiv and reassuring its combat aims -- or reassessing its combat aims, Russia has shifted its focus to the Donbas, and we can't underestimate the challenge that Ukraine faces.
Russia is using its long-range fires to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions, and Russia continues to indiscriminately bombard Ukraine's sovereign territory and recklessly endanger Ukrainian civilians,” Austin added in his opening remarks. “We must intensify our shared commitment to Ukraine's self-defense and we must push ourselves even harder to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself, its citizens and its territory,” Austin explained.
While Ukraines success against a massive Russian Army has caught the world by surprise and generated unexpected success, many have warned that the sheer size of the Russian force might eventually overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.
Although the Ukrainian tenacity, resolve and tactical success has captured the world’s attention, there remains a massive deficit in force size between Ukraine and Russia.
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Surprisingly, through innovative tactics such as the use of anti-armor weapons, ambushes and dispersed, dismounted hit-and-run attacks, Ukraine has shocked the world by thwarting, slowing or even “stopping” Russian advances on Ukraine. This was true in areas North of Kyiv, but will it remain the case in Donbas? Apparently, as anticipated by many, Ukrainian defenses in Donbas are in jeopardy.
“Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield, and we're seeing what President Zelenskyy warned us about,” Austin said.
Video Above: The Role of Javelin Missiles in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
There are, however, some reasons why Ukrainians and their backers might have cause for hope. Close-Quarter Battle, or urban warfare may still favor Ukrainian defenses, should they have enough anti armor weapons such as Javelins. Mechanized vehicles will need to advance through cities and congested areas with narrow passageways to ultimately “conquer” and hold territory in Donbas.
The Ukrainians have already shown that Advancing Russian armor is extremely vulnerable to ambushes at intersections, cross-points and narrowly configured areas. This advantage, particularly when optimized by Ukrainian tactics using dispersed, dismounted units which are difficult to target and able to launch surprise attacks from obscured positions such as buildings or uneven terrain.
However, any apparent or thus far proven Ukrainian advantage is still faced with an overwhelming bombardment of long-range Russian rockets and missiles wreaking havoc upon civilian areas and Ukrainian positions. Some of these Russian weapons are known to have an ability to travel as far as 200-to-300 miles, making them very difficult to defend without defenses such as the Patriot or comparable long-range fires.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.