Mečys Laurinkus. Ukraine can only win against Russia if NATO is fully engaged in the fight

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced that the military forces under his leadership have three to six weeks to recapture the territories currently controlled by the Russian occupation army, including Crimea, as it will be much more challenging to do so later, Mečys Laurinkus writing at news portal.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is probably referring to the word ‘must’, which was used by other states to comment on the President’s statement.

But what must be done is not necessarily done. When a Head of State uses such commanding words, it is assumed that the army under his command is ready for a victorious march and is only waiting for specific orders.

The talk of a large-scale decisive counter-offensive has been going on for a month in the Ukrainian military leadership and, more often, in the mouths of its spokespeople. On the front line, counter-offensives are usually a military secret; if anything is announced, it is only to mislead the enemy.

We shall see what happens in this case – the weeks will pass quickly. If the situation is similar to the current one, a positional war, Mr Zelensky will have to give a speech again.

However, is it possible to independently assess the capabilities of the sides fighting on the front based on publicly available information? Unfortunately, even though we live in the information age, it is difficult to determine what is actually happening on the battlefield, let alone off it.

I noticed a line running through the RTVI television channel: ‘The assessment of the fighting parties’ reports of successes, defeats and losses must be made with a certain amount of scepticism.

The situation in Ukraine is now being covered by an army of war correspondents, commentators and political analysts, but the objective picture is slow to emerge, sketchy and difficult to predict.

I have my view of the war: Ukraine can only win against Russia if NATO fully engages in the fight. What is meant by ‘full’ barely needs explaining.

But from the very first days, the US has made it clear that its troops, not volunteers, would not be on the Ukrainian battlefield. This has been repeated to this day on various occasions by all NATO members. Liz Truss, who will actually win the British Prime Ministerial candidates’ debate, has emphasised this several times.

NATO has limited itself to technical military assistance, even with trainers.

Ukraine’s own military-industrial complex is too small for the current war conditions. Therefore, military aid must not be sporadic, intermittent and, moreover, calculated for the current and future capabilities of the enemy.

We hear of aid in the billions of dollars. The mythologised four (although many more are needed) HIMARS multiple rocket launchers have almost reached the Ukrainian battlefield. Other modern military equipment has also arrived.

Perhaps the existing rearmament is enough to launch a decisive counter-offensive and, once the war is underway, to end the war victoriously for the Ukrainians by the end of the year? I don’t know. All I can see is that, after five months of the war, Russia controls a fifth of Ukrainian territory. And it is going to get a foothold there.

How much effort will it take to retake Mariupol? And Crimea, which is full of weapons? What if the same situation exists in five or fifteen years’ time?

Nothing has changed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since 2008.

The words ‘frozen conflict’ appear more and more frequently in the texts of commentators on Ukraine. But, unfortunately, the freeze may last so long that there is no one left to thaw it. And there will be no desire at all.

Increasingly, states, even those that actively support Ukraine, will focus on their own interests. Already now, before the desire to punish Russia has completely faded, the vested interests of states are putting the nail in the coffin of the common fight against Russia.

It is true that the EU is still maintaining a show of unity, but it could start to crumble in another year after the winter.

Some emotional political analysts accuse the West of a lack of determination to finish off the Putin regime. But is it not capable of doing so? Both militarily and economically. Russia has withstood the carpet-bombing of sanctions packages. Like all bombardments, it will leave its mark on the Russian economy, but not in the expected way.

The country will be cut off from Western technology but not isolated from the world. This is impossible in a huge region with 30% of the world’s energy resources as in military matters.

Since 2000, Russia has been concerned about the poor state of its military industry and has set about reorganising it and, after the 2008 war in Georgia, rapidly modernising the army. Like all current wars, the fighting on the Ukrainian front is also a testing ground for new weapons.

The West,  supplying Ukraine with modern but not state-of-the-art weapons, is waiting to see how Russia will respond. And this is happening in all areas of warfare. The Russians recognise HIMARS as an effective weapon and, at the same time, announce that they have found a way to defend themselves. Moreover, they are demonstrating weapons with analogous and even better characteristics.

For two weeks now, the Ukrainian media have been reporting daily (and this is immediately disseminated throughout the world) on the readiness to take Kherson back from the invaders.

Whether this is a manoeuvre or a reality, we shall soon see. In any case, almost all military experts agree that in two months or a little later, the situation must change fundamentally, leaving only the energy battles with Russia for next year. Naturally, Lithuania will be actively involved.

It is not yet clear what real challenges await our country. Economic commentators, who used to be active in the past, are now much more subdued or speak in abstract terms. At the same time, the Germans are even counting the time in the shower.
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