Failure is not an option for Ukraine under the eyes of the whole world, including the Chinese Communist Party, which hopes the West will fail. Because Beijing knows that Taiwan will be an easy choice if Russia beats Ukraine.
The stakes cannot be higher. War criminal Vladimir Putin launches a massive offensive that stretches from Kharkiv in the north to Mariupol in the south. His goal: to carve out as much of eastern Ukraine as possible and ensure that he can say he has been victorious in his war of aggression which has gone from bad to worse in record fashion.
The bad news for Kyiv is that the game is now against them, as the war waged so far is about to change drastically.
The Donbass region will not favor Ukraine’s current composition of Western forces and weapons which are primarily defensive and designed to fight in urban conditions.
Putin’s plan of attack will be to use large armored columns including tanks, armored personnel carriers and numerous bombers in the sky to take large chunks of flat, hilly terrain.
It is, in many ways, the war Russia was built for during the Cold War and trained for over the past two decades.
This creates problems for freedom fighters in Kyiv. Ukrainian forces will not be able to use the same guerrilla tactics they used in cities, where they could push Russian forces into areas of destruction, attack convoys on the roads and hit slow-moving tanks on the highways.
Moving around the countryside means Russian tanks can move far and fast with assets in the sky to cover their every move. And Ukraine will not be able to retaliate as easily because its armored divisions are much smaller and much less advanced with much less air cover.
But none of this guarantees that kyiv will lose the battle for eastern Ukraine and the Donbass. We just have to adjust our strategy and realize that past progress does not mean victory is certain.
Now is the time for the West to send even more military aid to kyiv as quickly as possible.
As a first step, Ukraine must receive all the tanks that are in the tank corps of the former Warsaw Pact nations that their forces can use quickly because there is no time for training now.
kyiv especially needs T-72 tanks that can take on the best that Russia throws at them. Ukraine is trained on them and knows how to fight with them.
Ukraine will also need more assets capable of hitting Russian tanks and armor from the air. This means many more Switchblade drones that can launch kamikaze attacks on Putin’s forces and slow their assault.
kyiv also needs a massive amount of air defense systems to ensure that Moscow cannot slaughter Ukrainian ground forces as they find their footing. The S-300s are to be sent to kyiv as soon as possible, with Patriot missile batteries sent later when training can be carried out over time.
Then there are the long-term needs to be met to ensure that what will likely be a war that will last months and possibly longer can be won.
The West and kyiv need to set up training programs to ensure that Ukraine can use more modern surplus military equipment that could help. This means that along the border, older M1 Abrams tanks could be stored with Ukrainian soldiers trained on such platforms and possibly even older Predator drone systems.
These ideas are only the minimum of what should be considered to ensure that Ukraine is not gutted and turned into another Russian puppet state. Putin will only seek peace when he knows he has no viable path to victory.
America and the West can and must be the arsenal of democracy again, also showing China that if it attempted the same strategy of conquest with Taiwan or in the South China Sea, Beijing would pay a heavy price.
Harry J. Kazianis is President and CEO of the Rogue States Project