Dnipro, A Heinous Attack Sparks Hard Questions About Weapon Supplies — On Both Sides
After Dnipro was left devastated by one of Russia’s deadliest attacks on Ukrainian civilians to date, the problem of arms delivery in a war that keeps escalating has never been more urgent.
The Russian missile that struck a residential building on Saturday afternoon in Dnipro killed at least 40 people, a number that keeps growing as bodies are discovered under the rubble in the central Ukrainian city. It appears to be a war crime with no legitimate target near the neighborhood.
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This bombing is also particularly informative about what’s happening right now on the Russian side of the war: The KH-22 cruise missile used is designed to sink an aircraft carrier, the biggest one in Moscow’s arsenal.
This precision missile was fired from an aircraft hundreds of miles away and has no link whatsoever to the target.
This enormous gap between the type of missile used and its ultimate target might actually reveal a missile scarcity in Russia, after weeks of continuous bombing in Ukraine. Tapping into strategic Russian weaponry (the KH-22 can be equipped with nuclear warheads) can never be justified considering the innocence of the target. Russian arms plants running at full capacity, for the time being at least, cannot keep up supplies.
But this tragic strike is also a clear sign of a progressive escalation in a war that, at this stage, shows no signs it can be stopped.
The type of weapons supplied by the Western countries to the Ukrainian army are the source of constant questions.
The question of tanks
The British announced this weekend that they would send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine — so far the heaviest Western armed vehicle delivered to Ukraine.
There has been an ongoing debate over the past few days from military experts and political leaders behind the scenes, about the weapons with which Ukraine says it needs to keep its forces equipped. The British tanks would enable Ukraine to face down Russian offensives like the one that destroyed the mining town of Soledar, now threatening the nearby key city of Bakhmut.
It’s a decision each time that delays the modernization of the Ukrainian army.
Poland has already provided old Soviet-made tanks from its stocks, while Western countries refused any negotiation on supplying Ukraine with their modern tanks. But while France recently announced a delivery of AMX-10-RC light armored vehicles, its Leclerc tanks are completely out of the question.
France claims to be all-in pulling for Ukraine’s victory in this brutal war, but adapts its weaponry deliveries to each stage of a war that only keeps getting worse.
Consequences of Russian rocket attack on apartment block in Dnipro
The slow modernization of the Ukrainian army
Since the very beginning of the war, the West has been reluctant to accelerate the different stages of its escalation regarding the type of weapons provided to Ukraine. It is an approach that can seem wise when one considers facing the world’s second strongest military power; but it’s a decision each time that delays the modernization of the Ukrainian army and threatens the safety of civilians.
Part of the explanation is the availability of the arms themselves, as both France and Europe face possible stock shortages and sluggish production lines. Germany has declared that it will deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but that it won’t happen until 2024.
The tension between urgency and realism, from Dnipro to Bakhmut, may also require a painful rethinking of the broader strategy — the hard questions of the war in Ukraine are far from over.
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