There have been no major Russian territorial gains for several days now, as Russian troops remain locked in a stalemate across the country. Instead, they have continued to pound the nation into submission, with the explicit goal of using mass-civilian casualties and fear to force a conclusion to the conflict.
Yet the growing amount of materiel support from NATO may soon make Putin’s reign of terror over Ukraine’s airspace more difficult. Many Eastern European nations fielding MiG-29s may agree to transfer them to Ukraine. In return, the United States would supply said countries with dated F-16s. This would provide Ukrainian pilots with a capable fleet they are familiar with, including one that can operate under less-than-optimal conditions. MiG-29s are incredibly resilient planes that can land on dirt roads and cleared areas. Though Russia has targeted airports with mixed success, having destroyed the Vinnytsia International Airport with eight missiles today, it has not secured air superiority nor the destruction of the Ukrainian Air Force. Following a resolute ‘NO’ from NATO, Ukraine’s officials have shifted from calling for a ‘no-fly zone’ to giving Ukraine the capabilities it requires to close its skies.
NATO has sent 17,000 anti-tank weaponry in the last week alone, flooding Ukraine with armaments. But donors have also come from around the world; Japan recently donated bulletproof vests, helmets, and general survival gear to Ukraine, and South Korea donated medical equipment a few days ago. Private citizens have donated civilian drones for usage in combat and reconnaissance, and Ukraine’s MoD has received millions in donations via various sources.
Perhaps warmer weather may see Russian troops advance further; or, on the contrary, allow Ukraine’s foreign-backed army to repel and even advance into parts of occupied Ukraine. Only time will tell, but Putin’s choice to invade has been a miscalculation; how he will proceed is the most pressing concern, particularly in establishing how much either he or Zelensky would be willing to concede.
Finally, it is just as important not to underestimate the Russian army as it is to avoid overestimating its capabilities. Though this invasion has so far been disastrous, with the Pentagon claiming 95% of Russian troops in the area are committed to the invasion, the Russian army, equipped with the means to carry out genocide on an industrial scale, can still rip through the heart of Ukraine with sheer firepower. Suppose Putin makes this decision, to which increased bombardment seems to be an indicator. In that case, Russia must be further isolated from the global economy, and nations bordering it secured under NATO or the European Union as quickly as possible.
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