Delays in Western assistance to Ukraine 'likely helping' Russia - ISW

A Ukrainian police officer takes cover in front of a burning building that was hit in a Russian airstrike in Avdiivka, Ukraine, Friday, March 17, 2023.
A Ukrainian police officer takes cover in front of a burning building that was hit in a Russian airstrike in Avdiivka, Ukraine, Friday, March 17, 2023. Copyright Libkos/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Joshua Askew with AP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Ukrainian forces withdrew from Avdiivka on Saturday, with experts claiming dwindling supplies of Western-supplied arms played a key role in Kyiv's strategic defeat.

ADVERTISEMENT

Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are "likely helping" Russia's offensive, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). 

In its daily intelligence briefing, the US-based think tank said "critical Ukrainian shortages" of equipment from the West, alongside fears US military aid would stop, forced Kyiv to conserve material. 

This "likely encouraged Russian forces to exploit the situation and launch limited offensive operations," it added. 

The ISW pointed to the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Avdiivka in the Donetsk region on Saturday, claiming delays in Western deliveries of artillery shells and air defence systems "inhibited Ukrainian troops from defending against Russian advances."

Similar claims have been echoed elsewhere. 

The Associated Press interviewed over a dozen commanders in the weeks ahead of Avdiivka’s fall, finding that shortages - which have long plagued Ukrainian forces - have deteriorated since last autumn. 

It reported that dwindling supplies of Western-supplied long-range artillery in particular mean Ukrainian forces cannot strike high-value targets deep behind Russian lines, where heavy equipment and personnel are accumulated.

For weeks, Ukrainian forces across the frontline have complained about critical shortages in ammunition, with some artillery batteries fighting with only 10 per cent of the supply they need. 

Commanders on the ground told the US news agency that Russian forces are better supplied. 

They expressed concerns that without military aid the fall of Avdiivka may be repeated in other parts of the frontline.

President Joe Biden said he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a Saturday phone call that he remained confident that the US funding would eventually come through. 

But, when reporters asked if he was confident a deal could be struck before Ukraine loses more territory, Biden responded: “I’m not.”

FILE - Ukrainian soldiers fire a French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions near Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 26, 2022.
FILE - Ukrainian soldiers fire a French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions near Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 26, 2022.Libkos/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

Avdiivka has suffered daily Russian onslaughts from three directions for the last four months.

According to the ISW, Russia's offensive there will hinder Ukrainian forces from preparing personnel and materiel for renewed counteroffensive operations. 

If Kyiv "simply digs in" and simply attempts to defend itself for the rest of 2024, it will suffer "operational disadvantages", the think tank claimed. 

The city was a stronghold for Ukrainian positions deeper inside the country, away from Russia. 

On the frontline ever since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, the fortified settlement with a maze of trenches and tunnels served to protect important — less strengthened — logistical hubs further west.

Its seizure boosts Russian morale and confirms that Kremlin troops are now setting the pace in the fight, to the dismay of Ukrainian forces who have managed only incremental gains since their counteroffensive last year.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Massive Russian strike knocks out major power plant in Kyiv region

Ukrainian parliament passes controversial conscription law as war effort struggles

One killed and 16 injured in strike on Poltava, Ukraine