Officials from Ukraine and their European allies are intensifying their efforts to persuade the United States to provide them with new weapons and training. This is due to concerns that the current support for the war may be threatened by changes in House leadership and ongoing issues in the Middle East.
Last week, Ukrainian officials, troops, and advisers visited Washington D.C. to discuss their current requests with American leaders. These requests include training from the U.S. Marine Corps on conducting ship-to-shore operations, new air defenses to combat Russian glide bombs that have been causing harm to Ukrainian forces, and the long-range, single-warhead version of the Army Tactical Missile System that was recently sent to Ukraine by the Biden administration.
The delegates who visited the United States were aware that they had to adapt their message to the current situation.
During an interview, Roman Tychkivskyy, a former Ukrainian marine who currently serves in Ukraine’s defense ministry, drew a comparison between Russians and Hamas. He likened them to the terrorist organization responsible for the death of 1,400 Israelis in a surprise attack on October 7. He emphasized that it is not only Kyiv that is in danger, but also Europe, if Russia succeeds in invading Ukraine.
Tychkivskyy declared that the collaboration between Russia, North Korea, and Iran, who provide financial and weapon support to Hamas, is a new “axis of evil,” stating that it is not just a war, but genocide.
According to him, Russia will not halt its actions in Ukraine. If Ukraine were to be defeated, Russia would persist.
Ukraine and its allies are currently conducting a pressure campaign to secure more aid, as international backing appears to be wavering. The highly-anticipated spring counteroffensive by Ukraine has been delayed, allowing Russian forces to fortify their positions, and has only had limited success. According to top U.S. military figures, Kyiv has a limited amount of time before the arrival of winter weather, which will likely halt the conflict.
Meanwhile, the ongoing dispute between Israel and Hamas has shifted focus away from the struggles faced by Kyiv. On Sunday, Ukraine received further negative developments as newly appointed House Speaker Mike Johnson indicated plans to prioritize a separate bill for aid to Israel this week, potentially pushing aid for Kyiv to the sidelines.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that it has approximately $5.4 billion left in presidential drawdown power to allocate towards military assistance for Ukraine. President Joe Biden has requested an extra $60 billion from Congress to provide aid for Kyiv in a comprehensive emergency funding proposal that also covers support for Israel.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has personally increased his requests for aid. He held a meeting with multiple lawmakers on Monday while Congress discusses providing more assistance. On social media, he reiterated his belief that Russia poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but to all of Europe.
Zelenskyy stated on Monday that with the help of U.S. aid, the aggressor has been stopped and the world has been united since Russia’s full-scale invasion began. Sustained and substantial assistance will lead to a shared victory and the re-establishment of stability in Europe and globally.
European leaders are increasing their efforts to garner backing for Ukraine. A particular organization intends to travel across the United States and persuade Americans that providing military assistance to Kyiv will lead to job creation in America.
The Ukrainian representatives stated in an interview that the assistance is crucial for their country to continue resisting the Russian invaders.
The top priority for Kyiv is obtaining new air-to-air capability to counter the rise in GPS-guided Russian glide bombs. These bombs can be launched from distant aircraft, causing significant damage and casualties to Ukrainian forces. This urgent need for new capability has become even more pressing in recent weeks due to the high number of casualties suffered by Ukrainian forces.
“According to Tychkivskyy, the bomber must be taken down using fighter jets and air-to-air missiles.”
Andriana Susak-Arekhta, a weapons sergeant in the Ukrainian special forces, was injured by an anti-tank mine while on a mission near Kherson in December of last year. She believes that the United States should speed up its training of F-16 pilots. Although Ukrainian pilots have started learning to fly the jets this month, they will not be ready for battle until next year according to a statement from a Pentagon spokesperson on Tuesday. The training is expected to take between five to nine months.
She expressed that it was not soon enough.
At first, doctors believed Arekhta would not recover from her injuries, but now she is returning to the battlefield to defend her nation following a difficult nine-month recovery process. She has undergone over 10 surgeries and has received eight titanium plates in her back.
Arekhta declared, “I am made of metal – my hand, my spine, and my jaw. I am the iron lady.”
Ukraine has stated that, aside from its air defense systems, it requires the extended-range and single-warhead version of the ATACMS, according to the group. Ukraine has already demonstrated its effectiveness by using the shorter-range version armed with cluster munitions to strike scattered and exposed targets, such as 18 Russian helicopters stationed at two different airbases this month.
However, Ukraine possesses a finite supply of these weapons. According to Ihor Semak, a junior sergeant commanding a grenade launcher platoon, the extended-range, one-warhead ATACMS will enable Kyiv’s military to target more heavily fortified objects deep within Russian-controlled territory, such as aircraft or helicopters in reinforced shelters.
The Defense Department has declined to send the extended-range option, capable of reaching targets up to approximately 200 miles away, in order to preserve an adequate supply of munitions. The U.S. version known as the Anti-Personnel/Anti-Materiel variant is no longer included in the Defense Department’s war strategies.
Moreover, Tychkivskyy stated that Kyiv desires to receive training from the U.S. Marine Corps on amphibious operations in order to effectively cross the Dnipro River and exploit Russia’s vulnerable defenses on the eastern front.
The Royal Marines of the United Kingdom are currently providing training to hundreds of Ukrainian marines, preparing them for the complex task of crossing rivers in the southeastern region of Ukraine. The speaker suggested that the U.S. Marines should also participate in this training.
The group stated that reclaiming land along the Dnipro River is crucial in exerting pressure on Russian troops along the southeastern coast of Ukraine. Their ultimate objective is to reach the Sea of Azov and disrupt the Russian land connection.
Tychkivskyy stated that once we successfully cross the river and transfer our troops to the opposite side, there will be few hindrances in our ability to advance swiftly towards Crimea.
This report was contributed to by Gabriel Gavin, Jacopo Barigazzi, and Eric Bazail-Eimil.