More and more Western leaders have reportedly conceded that the Russia-Ukraine conflict may drag on for another five years in a “stalemate” that neither side is capable of shattering. Neither Russia nor Ukraine is prepared to “give in,” and there is no sign that the conflict will end anytime soon, The Economist reported on Monday.
The war has already strained the West’s military capacity amid struggles to produce enough artillery shells, the magazine said, and the Israel-Hamas war creates further stress.
“As time goes on, there will be trade-offs as certain key systems are diverted to Israel,” Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote last month. “A few systems that Ukraine needs for its counteroffensive may not be available in the numbers that Ukraine would like.”
Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, raised eyebrows when he told The Economist earlier this month that the conflict with Russia had reached a stalemate. Although officials in U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration were troubled by Zaluzhny’s candor, they agreed with his assessment, the New York Times reported last week.
The Ukraine crisis has revealed how “meager” Western armories are, The Economist said. Even as the U.S. ramps up its output of 155mm artillery shells, its production in 2025 will be lower than Russia’s in 2024, the magazine added. If the overlapping conflicts in Ukraine and Israel both drag on, Washington and its allies would be hard-pressed to cope with another crisis.
“If the war in Ukraine stays an open sore in Europe and the Middle East remains ablaze, the West will struggle gravely should another serious crisis erupt,” the Economist warned. “One risk is that adversaries simply capitalize on chaos elsewhere for their own ends. If America were bogged down in a Pacific war, for instance, Iran would surely feel more confident of getting away with a dash for nuclear weapons.”
A “New World Disorder”
The British magazine called the situation a “new world disorder” and suggested that Russia and China see “opportunities” in the growing threats. “Even more worrying is the prospect of active collusion. European military planners give weight to the possibility that Russia might conduct menacing maneuvers during a crisis over Taiwan in order to divert American attention and tie down its allies, preventing them from lending a hand in Asia.”
Concentrations of crises have occurred in past eras, The Economist said, “but America and its allies cannot intervene as easily or cheaply as they once did.” That is partly because the Ukraine crisis has “cemented” the partnership between Russia and China, and the two countries are working more closely together, according to the magazine.
China Has Not Supplied Russia With Weapons To Fight Ukraine, Says White House
The White House is confident that China has not supplied weapons to Russia for use in the Ukraine conflict, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday.
Sullivan was asked for an update on the issue ahead of a meeting on Wednesday between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Biden is hosting Xi along with other foreign dignitaries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in San Francisco.
In late July, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report on what it called Chinese support of Russia “with respect to its war in Ukraine.” The document detailed China’s purchase of Russian energy and the use of the yuan in commerce with Russia, which go against the sanctions that the U.S. pushed for. It also described the supply of dual-use parts, such as semiconductors used in navigation equipment, as a form of support for Russia’s military action.
Washington has repeatedly warned Beijing against providing weapons to Moscow, despite Chinese assurances that it has no intention to become involved in the conflict on either side, and has instead sought a diplomatic resolution.
Last month, the U.S. sanctioned 42 Chinese companies for allegedly supporting Russian military production in defiance of trade restrictions.
China’s position on the Ukraine crisis has put it at odds with the U.S., which claims that Russia has become an international “pariah.” Some U.S. officials have accused Beijing of actively supporting Moscow rather than maintaining neutrality.
Beijing has blamed NATO’s expansion in Europe for triggering the crisis in Ukraine and has denounced the use of unilateral sanctions by the US and its allies as a tool of geopolitical pressure. Washington is stuck in a “Cold War mentality,” Chinese officials have said.
Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as part of a Western proxy war against Russia, which is being waged in an attempt to preserve US hegemony on the world stage.
EU Warns Ukraine Of Ammunition Limits
The militaries of EU member states have already supplied Ukraine with all the ammunition they could find in existing stockpiles, so now the bloc has to wait to produce more, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday.
The top diplomat made the remarks ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, when pressed on the EU’s pledge to supply a million artillery shells to Kiev by March 2024.
“I do not have ammunition here in Brussels. I do not have a stock of ammunition, I have to mobilize the stocks of the European armies,” he said.
“The first track – providing what the armies already had in their stockpiles – is already finished,” Borrell said, noting that the bloc had provided Ukraine with more than 300,000 shells already. “Now, from the stockpiles of the armies, it is difficult to get more.”
The figure provided appears to confirm earlier reporting by Bloomberg that the EU has provided Kiev with just 30% of the promised shells.
According to Borrell, the flow of ammunition is now dependent on manufacturing capacities of the bloc’s arms producers.
“Keep in mind that the European defense industry is exporting a lot. About 40% of the production is being exported to third countries so, it is not a lack of production capacities,” he told reporters.
Ukrainian officials have recently renewed requests for additional weapons and other lethal aid, as Kiev’s much-anticipated counteroffensive failed to yield significant territorial gains.
EU Has Given Ukrainian Military €27 Billion
The EU has authorized at least €27 billion in direct military assistance to Ukraine since last year, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said, touting the aid as the “highest figure ever reached.”
Speaking to reporters ahead of an EU meeting in Brussels on Monday, Borrell outlined the agenda for the event, stressing that even with renewed violence in the Middle East, member states should not “forget about Ukraine.”
“Our support is increasing. I can tell you that it has reached the level of €27 billion of military support,” he said, adding, “It is the highest figure ever reached. We continue training Ukrainian soldiers. We continue being behind Ukraine.”
While the bloc was set to discuss additional aid to Kiev, some member states have reportedly objected to continued largesse. According to multiple senior diplomats cited by Reuters last week, Germany “has had a lot of questions” about a €20 billion spending plan favored by Borrell, while other countries may be constrained by “the reality of the public finances.”
Slovakia To Stop Supplying Weapons To Ukraine
Slovakia has publicly declared an end to all lethal aid to Ukraine, and France likewise announced that it would scale back arms shipments on Sunday, with Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu stating that Paris would no longer supply weapons from its own stockpiles. Instead, he said Kiev would have to purchase equipment from private companies “using money from a special fund.”
The EU is also seeking to deliver 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by next March, a goal announced earlier this year. It is struggling to meet that target with Bloomberg reporting it has provided just 30% of the total figure.
In his comments on Monday, Borrell acknowledged that the bloc might “not reach [the target] by the end of the year,” but noted that member states have “gone onto the production [of ammunition],” and that “the lines have started working.”
“It will depend on how quickly the contracts will be implemented and the factories will produce,” he added. “The goal is to increase capacity.”
Ukrainian forces have burned through vast supplies of shells and other military gear amid the conflict with Moscow, with officials in Kiev repeatedly requesting more arms and ammunition from foreign sponsors. Despite the Western aid, however, Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive has lagged on into the fall, with troops struggling to advance beyond heavy Russian fortifications. Moscow’s Defense Ministry has estimated that Kiev has lost more than 90,000 troops, along with over 55 tanks and 1,900 armored vehicles, since its offensive began in June.