Analysis-Ukraine’s gains on the battlefield could win it more Western weapons | WKZO | All Kalamazoo

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) – By showing over the past week that they have the ability to beat Russian forces on the battlefield, Ukrainian troops may have won more military support from Western countries and undermined envy certain Europeans to push Kyiv to make concessions.

Just hours before German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in Kyiv on Saturday, Ukrainian troops hoisted their country’s blue and yellow flag atop the Kupyansk town hall. The city east of Kharkiv, home to the main rail hub that had supplied Russian troops in northeastern Ukraine, was captured without a fight after the Russian front line collapsed.

As night fell, Moscow announced that it was abandoning Izium, its main stronghold in the region, acknowledging its worst defeat in months. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had a message for his visiting German counterpart: Russia can be defeated, but we need more help now.

This is an argument that will be more difficult to dismiss now.

“(Military support) is an easier sell when you win,” a northern European diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “My hunch would be that Ukraine’s gains reinforce the understanding that these deliveries worked and that we may have a chance of ending the war.”

Europe’s biggest supporters of Kyiv, such as the Baltic states that have long called for more military aid from Ukraine, say the successes of the past week have demonstrated the case for increased support now.

“Those who doubted Ukraine’s strength should apologize. Ukraine stood up for us all,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis tweeted on Monday. “Now is the time for us to show our deep gratitude.”

Landsbergis called for the dispatch of stockpiles of advanced Western weaponry, ranging from army tactical missile systems to tanks.

Some are even detecting signs of movement in Berlin, which Kyiv has long accused of being too cautious due to Germany’s dependence on Russian energy to get through the coming winter. Ukraine wants Germany to send modern battle tanks.

On Monday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht rejected sending tanks “unilaterally”. Some saw in these remarks the possibility that Berlin could do so as part of a pan-European consortium.

“There are growing indications that Washington would support such an initiative,” said Rafael Loss of the European Council’s Foreign Relations think tank.

Kyiv did not hesitate to insist.

“Disappointing signals from Germany as Ukraine needs Leopards and Marders now – to liberate people and save them from genocide,” Kuleba tweeted on Tuesday. “Not a single rational argument as to why these weapons cannot be provided, only abstract fears and excuses. What is Berlin afraid of that Kyiv is not?

WEAKNESS

Ukraine’s battlefield gains make it less likely that European leaders will want to be seen pressuring Ukraine to offer concessions in hypothetical negotiations.

“Pushing for a ceasefire under these conditions would be seen as a weakness and exploited by Moscow. (It) would mean that the West does not respect its own principles. It would look bad,” said the northern European diplomat.

French President Emmanuel Macron, denounced in Kyiv at the start of the war for saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be “humiliated”, has recently hardened his language.

Pressuring Ukraine to negotiate would be “very dangerous” for Europe’s long-term security architecture, a French diplomatic source said, adding that Moscow could not be allowed to formalize the gains made by the EU. military aggression.

Justin Bronk, senior researcher at UK think tank RUSI, said no Western country would accept Russian occupation of their territory “if they could stop it”.

By proving it can fight back, Kyiv can convince the West to uphold this principle, he said.

“I think it will encourage rather than suppress the will to deliver weapons.”

(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis, Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart in Washington, Sabine Siebold in Berlin and Belen Carreno in Madrid; Editing by Richard Lough and Peter Graff)

Martin E. Berry