The Western coalition behind Ukraine has started to falter after the failure of its much-anticipated counter-offensive.
In more than four months of fighting Ukraine has failed to make significant gains despite being provided with billions of dollars’ worth of Western weapons.
Instead the conflict has become a gruelling war of attrition, with huge casualties on both sides. Despite reports of Ukrainian gains in their push south towards Crimea very little territory has changed hands for the thousands of lives lost.
“When both sides’ gains are added up, Russia now controls nearly 200 square miles more territory in Ukraine compared with the start of the year,” the New York Times reported at the end of September.
The war is now a bloody stalemate—but both Putin and the West want to continue the killing. “We must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has declared.
Ukraine is totally dependent on Western arms and support to continue fighting what is now clearly a NATO proxy war against Russia.
As a recent article in Foreign Affairs outlines, “Ukraine’s army has shifted away from the aging infrastructure and antiquated doctrines that defined it during the post-Soviet era, becoming heavily reliant on Western equipment and strategic planning. Meanwhile, Russia is waging war on Ukraine’s economy, which would struggle to function without international help.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown his commitment to Western imperialism by siding with Israel in its war against Gaza, claiming both countries were under attack by “terrorists”.
Ukraine is starting to run short of artillery ammunition, with the West struggling to supply the amount needed. As a result, Ukraine will struggle to mount a major offensive next year, The Economist predicts.
The US and Europe have drastically scaled up production and are hoping to produce two million shells next year.
Ukraine is using 6000 rounds every day as it tries to dislodge Russia from trenches and fortified positions. It wants to increase this to 10,000, Ukrainian MP Oleksandra Ustinova told CNN.
But Western production will not reach the amount Ukraine needs until 2025.
Russia meanwhile has sufficient stocks to maintain the same level of artillery bombardment through next year. It lacks the precision artillery the US has given Ukraine but has a stock of five million shells and is producing another one to two million a year.
Russian defence spending will almost double again next year. Putin has made it clear he is willing to fight on for as long as it takes, hoping to outlast the West’s commitment to continue funding Ukraine.
Eastern European countries including Poland and Slovakia, who have been some of the most enthusiastic supporters of Ukraine, have started to waver.
Elections in Slovakia this month saw Robert Fico’s Smer-SSD party top the poll.
Fico campaigned against sanctions on Russia and pledged that, “If Smer enters government we will not send a single round of ammunition to Ukraine.” Previously the country had donated half its MiG fighter jets as well as dozens of infantry vehicles to Ukraine.
In September, Poland’s prime minister announced he was suspending arms deliveries to Ukraine. Increased exports of grain entering Poland from Ukraine had been threatening to ruin Polish farmers.
The defeat in the October election of the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party is likely to bolster Polish support for Ukraine but the economic tensions will remain.
There are also questions over whether the US will sustain its military support. A CNN poll in August showed that 55 per cent of the American public are against funding further aid for Ukraine, the first time a majority has opposed it.
Although US President Joe Biden continues to insist that the US will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” divisions in Washington are starting to slow the flow of arms.
Approval for another $6 billion in support for Ukraine was shelved in early October in order to pass a new funding bill to avert a government shutdown. Authorising further spending will be difficult.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is facing paralysis after hard-right Republicans forced out Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Elements within the party are becoming more and more hostile to the enormous spending on Ukraine. Donald Trump has sent signals he wants to wind back US spending on Ukraine if he retakes the presidency next year.
Pouring more weapons into the quagmire is only going to increase the death toll. We need to oppose the West’s proxy war and call for an end to the slaughter.
By James Supple