High-class aircraft and modern tanks are current agenda items between Ukraine and the coalition of Western states but in the meantime simpler, basic, weapons are needed.
Airplanes and tanks are certainly necessary for the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). Moreover, where there is a readiness to provide them, the horizons of qualitative and quantitative aid to Ukraine from the West become expanded: if tanks have already been given, then it will be easier to receive simpler things.
However, we will not see powerful Western tanks and especially planes on the frontline anytime soon, even where every country in the European Union (EU) and North America agrees to provide them in large quantities.
What Ukraine’s infantry units need now to create close combat advantages over the forces of the Russian Federation is much simpler.
We are talking about mortars of caliber 60 mm and more. We are talking about grenade launchers – automatic and manual – of caliber 30 and 40 mm. We are also talking about stand-mounted anti-tank grenade launchers, thermobaric grenade launchers, etc.
Such items represent a simple and age-old military heritage. They may not seem as attractive as airplanes or tanks, which journalists and politicians are more inclined to talk about, but they connect with the trench realities of war. As the weeks go on, almost everything at the front depends on the possession of critical basic requirements.
Let's paint a tactical picture of a Russian attack.
The enemy understands the qualitative advantage of Western weapons. And now they have rearranged their tactics to get closer to Ukrainian units as quickly as possible and using their numerical advantage in manpower. It resembles the Second World War, but with the experience of the Taliban and ISIS in mind.
BMP infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and even sometimes tanks work as "public transport." These vehicles go back and forth bringing infantry closer to the fortifications of the UAF during assault operations.
But recently, in places like Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin has been throwing its soldiers forward even without armored vehicles.
Firing artillery of caliber 155, 152 and 120 mm is like trying to hit paper clips with a sledgehammer. Spending powerful projectiles on the enemy's "meat" is economically and tactically impractical in many cases.
This has to be a job for the battalion and squadron level mortars, of which there are not enough in the UAF today. They can meet the Russians with aimed fire at a distance of two to five kilometers.
And if the Russians come even closer, then automatic grenade launchers should also enter the fray. They are powerful weapons in fields with numerous plantings, which Bakhmut is surrounded by. The Russians in the forest belts quickly dig trenches, realizing that this is their only chance to survive. Grenades explode when they hit the trees under which the advancing infantry are hiding and can hit them with shrapnel.
But automatic grenade launchers, together with cartridges to the bottom, are also in short supply even in many elite brigades of the UAF; not to mention the military units ordered to defend Bakhmut.
This is a picture of the needs of the UAF and a description of what is needed for its superiority in infantry battles.
We’re not talking about high-tech assemblies. There are plentiful stocks of such weapons and ammo around the world. All this can be delivered to Ukraine quickly, and just as quickly and easily one can learn to use it all (practically, and during battles on the front line).
I have left out the more advanced and expensive equipment. These include, for example, armored cars for transporting ammo and supplies; remote controlled machine gun and grenade launcher systems; remote demining systems and mines of all types; military standard video surveillance; short-range drones that are resistant to electronic warfare etc.
Even a strong supply of light mortars and grenade launchers can greatly change the course of battles. It is inexpensive and fast.
It is the infantry – on both sides – that bears the main burden of war.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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Thank you very much for the great reporting and keeping us updated. Glory to Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian spirit. World save Ukraine 🇺🇦
Looks like there is no politically sensible person in Ukraine. Zelenskyy is doing whatever the US and Europe want and that is to continue the war. Why he could not adopt a balance approach with both Russia and the others. Now who is paying the price?