U.S. DoD Says Ukraine's Defense Will Likely Collapse; Avdiivka Falls into Russian Hands

Failure to aid Ukraine will have costly consequences for Europe, the U.S., and the world, surpassing current security assistance expenses: Senior official
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 05:09 AM, February 17, 2024
  • 1376
U.S. DoD Says Ukraine's Defense Will Likely Collapse; Avdiivka Falls into Russian Hands
Representative image

In a stark warning to the public, a senior defense official emphasized today that without the passage of the Defense Department's supplemental funding request by Congress, Ukraine's ability to defend itself against Russian aggression is in serious jeopardy.

Despite considerable military support from allies and partners, the absence of crucial financial aid from the United States could lead to a collapse of Ukraine's defense capabilities.

The official, speaking to the media, highlighted the potential dire consequences of failing to provide Ukraine with the necessary security assistance. "If Ukraine fails because we fail to provide them with security assistance, the costs are high for Europe, for the United States, and for the world — higher than the cost of security assistance today," the official emphasized.

The lack of supplemental funding is already impacting Ukraine, with the strategic city of Avdiivka in the Donbas region facing imminent danger. Ukrainian forces are reportedly running short of ammunition and critical supplies, putting the city at risk of falling into Russian hands, the Pentagon said.

"We see this as something that could be the harbinger of what is to come if we do not get this supplemental funding—because without supplemental funding, not only can we not resupply those forces that are bravely trying to defend Avdiivka, we also will find many other locations along the forward line of troops that will be running low on supplies of critical ammunition," the official said.

Furthermore, the absence of supplemental funding jeopardizes Ukraine's air defense capabilities, leaving its cities, critical infrastructure, and troops vulnerable to the ongoing barrage of Russian missiles.

The defense official acknowledged the support packages pledged for Ukraine during the latest Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, led virtually by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. Despite the impressive aid from allies, the United States currently ranks sixteenth in the world when it comes to the percentage of gross domestic product allocated for security assistance.

Leading contributors include Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Addressing the cost of the war to Russia, the official disclosed staggering figures. Russia is estimated to have spent up to $211 billion in direct financial outlays for the conflict, including equipping, deploying, and maintaining operations in Ukraine. Additionally, the war has resulted in over $10 billion in canceled or postponed arms sales for Russia, and a staggering $1.3 trillion loss in previously anticipated economic growth through 2026.

DOD officials provided grim statistics on the toll of the conflict, estimating at least 315,000 Russian forces killed or wounded, and noting that Ukrainian forces have sunk, destroyed, or damaged at least 20 medium-to-large Russian navy vessels in the ongoing struggle.

Ukraine Abandons Avdiivka Amid Ammunition Crisis and Russian Advance

Ukrainian forces, facing critical shortages of artillery rounds and delayed U.S. military aid, have strategically withdrawn from the embattled Avdiivka. The move, announced by the new army chief General Oleksandr Syrskyi, aims to prevent encirclement by Russian forces after months of intense fighting.

The withdrawal, marking Russia's most significant advance since May 2023, comes as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the Munich Security Conference, seeking urgent military aid. U.S. President Joe Biden had warned of Avdiivka falling to Russian forces due to ammunition shortages, a consequence of Republican opposition to a new U.S. military aid package.

The loss of Avdiivka strengthens Ukraine's plea for support, impacting Russia's goal of securing control over the industrial Donbas region. General Syrskyi emphasized the move aimed to preserve lives and health, as the Third Assault Brigade highlighted the overwhelming odds faced by Ukrainian defenders.

Avdiivka's fall may offer President Putin a battlefield victory as he seeks re-election, intensifying the toll on Ukrainian forces fighting for almost two years. The town, with fewer than 1,000 residents, lies near Donetsk, a Russian-held bastion lost by Ukraine in 2014. The area's vital coking plant remains inactive due to the conflict.

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