American analyst and history professor Frederick Kagan has written a longer analysis of the think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW). In short, he writes, Western arms donations could help Ukraine win the war, while stopping them would hand the Russians victory.
It highlights the importance of several aspects such as artillery, anti-tank weapons, missiles, and not least air defence.
– The Russian Air Force has the ability to carry out air strikes against Ukrainian cities similar to those we saw in World War II, writes the professor.
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– Catastrophic consequences
He also writes that Russia has carried out such airstrikes recently, including when it destroyed the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2015 and 2016. In these attacks, Tupolev Tu-160, Tupolev Tu-22M, and Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft were used. All of these countries must be capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
These systems should be highly vulnerable to Western air defense systems donated to Ukraine and are not easy to replace, Kagan believes.
– Putin did not want to risk their losses. Western weapons systems thus kept Ukrainian airspace free of devastating bombing raids. If the West had stopped providing these air defense systems, he writes, the Russians would almost certainly have initiated air strikes that could have had dire consequences for Ukraine.
Kagan, who is also married to ISW founder Kimberly Kagan, wrote that the same air defense systems limit the Russians’ ability to attack ground forces with aircraft.
Protection of Kyiv
Tom Roseth, chief intelligence instructor at the Norwegian Defense Academy, says Ukrainian air defense is good around Kiev, but somewhat weaker near million-dollar cities like Odessa and Kharkiv.
– There is something symbolic about protecting the capital. In addition, vital community facilities, administration, command and control are located there. There is also sometimes good coverage around other cities, but the Ukrainians have to prioritize where to put air defenses, Rosyth tells Netavysyn.
Compare World War II
As we mentioned, the American refers to the comprehensive bombing carried out by both sides during World War II. He may have been referring, among other things, to the controversial bombing of Dresden in East Germany Estimates The death toll ranges from 25,000 to 250,000.
Can you imagine that Russia could bomb civilians in Ukraine in this way, if given the opportunity?
It can be said that the Russians retreated for periods, because such attacks could have caused strong reactions. Meanwhile, there are many examples where they did not last, such as in Mariupol and Bakhmut, which were bombed by artillery, Roseth says.
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– Do not overestimate Russia
In Mariupol, Ukrainian forces maintained their positions facing the Russians during the beginning of the invasion last year. The city suffered severe material damage as a result of Russian artillery shelling. One of the most powerful examples from the city was when about 300 civilians taking refuge in the basement of a theater were killed in a Russian attack.
– I think it is important not to overestimate Russia and I think it does not have much left. They may have preserved some resources, but they are mainly using what they have, because they are struggling. They haven’t made much progress since last year.
Russia is accused of deliberately attacking Ukrainian electricity supplies.
If they had the ability, they would likely try to reduce Ukrainian support for the war, in addition to striking military facilities. And last year we saw that they used the cold as a weapon, specifically to weaken support for the war. “It didn’t work, but I absolutely believe they will try it again,” he adds.
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