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The Future of the US-Ukraine Relationship

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Some folks asked about the ways in which I think the US should continue to support Ukraine:

Russia’s defense is holding behind effective, well designed entrenchments, and thus far has prevented Ukraine from accomplishing any significant breakthroughs along the front. But Russia’s position remains precarious. Maintaining an effective defensive line is expensive, especially as Ukrainian stand-off weapons wreak havoc on Russian artillery, ammo dumps, and motor vehicle pools. Russia’s manpower is substantial but not infinite, and Moscow faces the prospect of another unpopular mobilization. Anything can happen in war, and of course Russia might find a way to renew offensive maneuver combat, but its prospects for additional gains look grim. It is surely easier to fight on the defensive than the offensive, but over time, defending the same positions with little prospect for relief or improvement can be devastating for morale. Russian industry cannot replace the equipment it has lost at the front, and despite its overall population advantage, Russia does not seem able to manage its manpower as effectively as Ukraine. Russia has already expended its opening advantages in vehicles, artillery, and munitions. 

This is the difficult situation that Russia finds itself in. The pro-Ukrainian coalition in the West does not appear to be on the verge of cracking, and the U.S. presidential election is 18 long months away. F-16s and other “wonder weapons” probably won’t shift the balance of the conflict in the short term, but they surely undercut Russian hopes that Ukraine will relent or the West will cease its support. 

Once again, I’d like to note the absolutely invaluable War on the Rocks podcast The Russia Contingency, featuring Michael Kofman, Aaron Stein, and a few other great guests.

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