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Ukraine asks for more weapons to halt Russian advances

Ukrainian soldiers fire a shell from an M777 howitzer near the front line in the eastern Donetsk region, on June 6, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Ukraine has pleaded urgently for more weapons in a bid to resist Russian advances in the south and the east fronts, as European leaders are expected to travel to the capital, Kiev.

On Thursday, Major-General Dmytro Marchenko, who leads Ukraine’s forces in Mykolaiv, said that his troops could clinch victory over Russian forces if they were given the right weapons.

“It is clear that this will not end soon. But then again, if we are given all the weapons that we need, the counter-offensive could well be over by the end of the summer,” Marchenko told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Since the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the United States and its European allies have been pouring batches of advanced weapons into the ex-Soviet country.

Russia has time and again warned that the West’s flood of weapons will not force Moscow to end the offensive before achieving its objectives. The Kremlin says the flow of arms into Ukraine would only prolong the war.

Russia has now focused most of its firepower on capturing the major city of Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine’s east while simultaneously trying to cement its control over southern territory, which includes the strategic and already seized city of Kherson, situated north of the Black Sea.

Sievierodonetsk, now largely in ruins, is almost encircled by Russian forces, and Ukrainian troops are holed up alongside civilians inside the Azot chemical factory in the city, ignoring a Russian ultimatum to surrender.

“There are no obstacles for civilians to leave... except for the decision in principle by the Kiev authorities themselves,” said Russia’s Defense Ministry in a statement, as Moscow said it had opened a humanitarian corridor from Azot on Wednesday to allow civilians to evacuate to Russian-controlled territory.

Following appeals by the Ukrainian government for help on the eastern and southern fronts, Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have announced new packages of weapons for Ukraine in recent days.

On Wednesday, the American president pledged $1 billion worth of fresh aid, including anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets and rounds for howitzers.

Furthermore, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the US-led military alliance was “extremely focused on stepping up support” for Ukraine.

However, Ukraine complains that the desperately-needed weapons are not delivered fast enough and that they are too few.

On Friday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will gather in Kiev and discuss the latest developments of the ongoing war. Weapons provisions are likely to dominate discussions.

“We are at a point when we need to send clear political signals, us Europeans, towards Ukraine and its people when it is resisting heroically,” Macron said on Wednesday, without giving details. He said it was time for Europe to reassure Ukraine over its EU ambitions.

As for Scholz, he has already promised Ukraine world-class weapons, from howitzers to multiple launch rocket systems and an air defense shield capable of protecting a “large city” from Russian offensives.

However, the sluggishness in the actual delivery of the weapons has cast doubt on Germany’s support for Ukraine. The German chancellor has dismissed concerns, stressing that his country would “deliver all the weapons that we have set in motion.”

The European Commission on Friday will make a recommendation on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate.

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