Russian President Vladimir Putin has crippled the country’s economy and military to such a degree that it may take up to 30 years for the nation to return its superpower status, western officials believe.
There have been more than 100,000 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine, while Russia has spent a quarter of its annual budget on the conflict.
Kyiv has obliterated half of Russia’s tanks while Moscow has quickly used up its stockpile of shells, missiles and ammunition. One senior British government source told The Times that it could take Russia between 20 and 30 years to bring back its economic and military strength.
On a visit to the US this week, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the money given by western countries to the country was an ‘investment’ and called on allies to pledge more military support to stave off the threat from Russia. ‘Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy,’ he said.
Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his briefing after the State Council meeting at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December,22,2022
President Biden has agreed to give Ukraine Patriot air-defence systems, which will allow Kyiv to shoot down ballistic and cruise missiles.
He has refused to sanction the donation of Atacms, a surface-to-surface missile system that can hit targets up to 190 miles. He also suggested Nato allies were uneasy about giving Ukraine an offensive weapon that can strike Russian territory.
Ukraine’s armed forces believe that Putin could respond to complications in the east and south with an attack on Kyiv around the anniversary of the invasion in February.
Putin made a trip to Minsk earlier this week to meet Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. There are fears that Russia could use trains to quickly redeploy troops to Belarus to ready itself for a new push for Kyiv.
Pictured: A destroyed Russian tank and armoured personnel carriers on the outskirts of Izyum, Kharkiv Region, eastern Ukraine on September 14, 2022
‘Our expectation is that they will announce military exercises again in January as an excuse to significantly increase the number of Russian troops and the amount of military equipment in Belarus,’ a Ukrainian defence source told The Times. ‘But Lukashenko is making a big mistake. By allowing Russian troops on his territory, he is threatening himself even more than Ukraine.’
Zelensky received a standing ovation from members of Congress on his triumphant visit this week as he secured a major prize from Biden in the form of the $2 billion Patriot system.
The US has sent Patriot batteries to NATO allies like Poland previously, as a way to bolster their defenses, and sent other weapon systems to Ukraine to assist against the Russian invasion.
In recent years, the US has sent Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia and Iraq to counter threats posed by Iran and to the Pacific region to deter North Korea.
In total, more than a dozen US allies, including Germany, Japan, and Israel, have also purchased the system.
Pictured: Dead bodies of Russian servicemen lie on the ground in recently recaptured town of Lyman, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022
The US has sent Ukraine mid-range defensive National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems in recent months.
It has sent around a third of its stock of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and a third of its stockpile of anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, the Financial Times reports.
In advance of Russia’s invasion and after the outbreak of war in February, the US Department of State notes that the US approved Third Party Transfers from 14 NATO Allies and close partners to provide US-origin equipment from their inventories for use by Ukrainian forces.
It said deliveries to date include almost 12,000 anti-armour systems of all types; more than 1,550 anti-air missiles; radars; night vision devices; machine guns; rifles and ammunition; and body armour.
Last month US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN that the US is ‘very focused’ on providing air defense systems to Ukraine.
‘We’re now very focused on air defense systems and not just us, many other countries,’ Blinken said at the time.
Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers fire a Pion artillery system at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine on December 16, 2022.
‘We’re working to make sure that the Ukrainians get those systems as quickly as possible but also as effectively as possible, making sure that they are trained on them, making sure they can maintain them and all of that has to come together, and it is.
‘We have a very deliberate process established by the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Ramstein, Germany, that meets regularly to make sure that the Ukrainians are getting what they need, when they need it.’
The Ukrainian president on Tuesday visited the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut, now the epicenter of fighting in Russia’s nearly 10-month invasion of Ukraine.
Zelensky met military officials and handed out awards to Ukrainian servicemen, who have been holding back a fierce and months-long Russian campaign for the city.