West Frustrated by Ukrainian Military Advancing Only “in Metres, Rather Than Kilometres”
Admiral Rob Bauer, head of the NATO Military Committee, said deliveries of F-16 fighter jets to Kiev were postponed until the counteroffensive was completed. This represents a major blow to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been pleading with NATO members to provide fighter jets, including F-16s, and all while his military advances, supposedly, in only metres instead of kilometres.
“The discussion on the fighters is an important one, but it will not be solved in the short term for this counter-offensive,” explained Bauer in an interview with the LBC radio station. “Training those pilots, training the technicians, making sure there is a logistic organisation that can actually sustain these aircraft will not be available before this counter-offensive.”
“We shouldn’t mix the two discussions – I think it’s important and understandable that Ukraine asks for these fighter aircraft – but we should not mix it with the counter offensive discussion now,” he added.
In Bauer’s opinion, it is now difficult for Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines to advance. Several lines of defence, minefields and vehicle movement obstacles prevent the units’ redeployment.
For its part, Kiev expected to receive Western fighter jets last year, but the aircraft’s delivery will probably not occur before the beginning of next year.
Bauer’s statements come as US House of Representatives member Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced an amendment to ban any funding for Ukraine until a diplomatic solution to the current conflict is found.
“We should be pushing for peace, not funding war. I filed amendments to the NDAA that strip out all funding for Ukraine and prohibit providing them with F-16 fighter jets and long-range missiles. The death and destruction must stop, so in order to achieve peace, I also filed an amendment to prohibit any and all funding to Ukraine until a diplomatic solution to the war is reached,” Greene said on her Twitter page on June 30.
On the same day as her tweet, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley stated that he is unaware of any decision regarding deploying the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine but noted: “it’s a constant review process.”
It is recalled that Russia sent a note to NATO members on the supply of arms to Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that any cargo containing weapons for Ukraine would become a legitimate target for Russia, with F-16s and ATACMS being no exceptions. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that NATO countries “are playing with fire” by supplying Ukraine with arms.
Many US lawmakers are becoming increasingly desperate because the Ukrainian military is being obliterated. With F-16s unlikely in the short term, the new hope is to deliver ATACMS to Ukraine as soon as possible.
Earlier in June, a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged US President Joe Biden to send the weapons system. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas described it as “extremely disappointing” that the administration had not sent them yet.
As Bloomberg noted, “Part of that frustration centres around the fact that a Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces has proceeded slowly and without major gains.”
According to Milley, Ukrainian forces were “advancing steadily,” even boasting about taking as little as 500 metres a day, if these reports are even to be believed to begin with.
However, this pace is not satisfactory, and CNN noted: “Ukraine’s Western allies are getting nervous about the fact that the progress of Kiev’s long-awaited counteroffensive is being measured in metres, rather than kilometres. Kiev’s allies are well aware that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia without their help. But the slower than expected pace of the counteroffensive means their support could become increasingly unsustainable if the conflict drags on.”
Milley can attempt to put a positive spin on the Ukrainian counteroffensive, alluding that progress is being made, but he himself knows, as do even the most casual military observers, that it has been a catastrophic failure. Rather than admit that Ukraine cannot win the war, he continues with a narrative that victory can be achieved after a “very long” and “very, very bloody” struggle.
“It’s going to be very long, and it’s going to be very, very bloody, and no one should have any illusions about any of that,” Milley said. “So yes, sure, it goes a little slow, but that is part of the nature of war.”
The reality is that neither F-16s, ATACMS or any other conventional means, despite bravado from Milley, will reverse the course of the war – the complete collapse of the Ukrainian military and further loss of life and territory – and all because the Kiev regime refuses to negotiate with Moscow.
Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.