Conversations buzz around the prospect of renewed fighting in Ukraine in the next few weeks, or even days. With both sides having had the opportunity to – to a certain extent anyway – recover, regroup, and re-equip, there is an awful expectancy around when the next major bout of fighting might start, and indeed where.
Despite my earlier predictions that the Ukrainians might be the first out of the traps, it now looks as if the Russians may well attack first. In fact according to some observers they have started already with an upsurge of attacks in the Donbas. It may be that instead of a sudden explosion in offensive operations their Spring offensives will be more of a ramping up of operations that have been underway for some time.
As for the Ukrainian armed forces, well, they are probably sufficiently strong to be able to resist any Russian assaults without giving up too much territory, but only if the west continues its present levels of financial and military support. But in my estimation they probably don’t have the wherewithal – yet – to go on the offensive themselves, not at any scale anyway.
That’s the primary reason why Zelensky’s tour of European capitals took place last week. His pleas for additional long range precision artillery and missile systems, plus Ukraine’s need for modern fast jet fighter aircraft, is precisely so they can contemplate taking the offensive against their invaders. Without the means to achieve at least local air superiority their task becomes much more difficult.
Whether the west will respond positively and ante up the weaponry remains to be seen. A few weeks back we had the same reluctance to supply main battle tanks to the UkrAF and now the floodgates have opened. Perhaps the same will happen over the supply of aircraft?
Lt Col Stuart Crawford’s latest book Tank Commander (Hardback) is available now