June 29, 2022

The Real Key to Victory in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has settled into a grinding fight for yards. Ukrainian and Russian forces are shelling each other with medium- and long-range artillery, leaving the already battered villages and towns of the Donbas caught in the crossfire. Like the brutal battles of World War I, the current conflict has seen only small swaths of territory change hands, often being captured and recaptured from one week to the next. Although talk of a rapid victory for either side has largely disappeared from the headlines, analysts and officials still debate what piece of heavy military equipment or new technology might turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor. With Russia running low on supplies and manpower, for instance, retired U.S. Army General Ben Hodges told The Washington Post last week that an influx of more sophisticated Western weaponry could allow the Ukrainians to turn back Russian advances and go on the counteroffensive.

This emerging war of attrition is more likely to come down to “sustainment”—the ability of each side to ensure a relentless influx of troops, ammunition, and heavy equipment to the frontlines in the east.

This emerging war of attrition, however, is more likely to come down to “sustainment”—the ability of each side to ensure a relentless influx of troops, ammunition, and heavy equipment to the frontlines in the east, especially as the conflict drags on and international attention dissipates. Logistics, financial management, personnel services, and health services will all be central to this effort, determining which side is better able to replace its depleted units, resupply and maintain its equipment, and source food, fuel, and ammunition. The Russian military is clearly showing signs of strain, especially when it comes to reinforcing its troops after heavy losses. But so are the Ukrainians, who in recent weeks have warned that they are running out of ammunition and losing as many as 200 soldiers per day.

Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.

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