Ukraine is gearing up for a spring counteroffensive as weapons from the West — including tanks and one million artillery rounds — pour in to aid in the fight against Russian forces.
Germany said this week that it delivered 18 Leopard 2 tanks and Poland, Canada, and Norway have already supplied Ukraine with their Leopard tanks.
Ukraine has also received British Challenger tanks and has been assured U.S. Abrams tanks and French light tanks will be sent as well. The U.S. has also sent High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and millions of rounds of ammunition.
The armored vehicles could be key to the looming counteroffensive, according to James Nixey, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, a London think tank.
“Sheer numbers of tanks can drive a deeper wedge into Russian holding positions,” Nixey said.
Nixey added that the fate of Europe relies on Ukraine’s success.
If Ukraine is defeated it would “have global ramifications, and there will be no such thing as European security as we (currently) understand it,” Nixey said.
The 13 months of brutal fighting has exposed weaknesses in Russia’s military forces.
Moscow’s shortcomings include failing to reach Kyiv during the early stages of the invasion and the inability to take the war-torn eastern city of Bakhmut after seven months of bloody battles for the city.
The dismal performance by Russian forces may soon lead to Moscow axing its top general, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense suggested.
Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov took over the “special military operation” in Ukraine on Jan. 11 of this year, the defense ministry said in an intelligence update Saturday.
However, Gerasimov’s attempts to take the Donbas region — where Bakhmut has repelled Russian force for months — have gone nowhere.
“Russian forces have made only marginal gains at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties,” the UK update said. “After ten years as [Chief of General Staff], there is a realistic possibility that Gerasimov is pushing the limits of how far Russia’s political leadership will tolerate failure.”
While the Russian offensive fails to gain any traction, other parts of Ukraine are beginning to rebuild with funds from the West.
Over the last year, Ukraine has cleared rubble from over 1,300 miles of roads, rebuilt 41 of 330 destroyed bridges, renewed 900 railway points, including train stations and depots, and created 80 temporary passages throughout the country.
“Are we aware that what we have rebuilt could be destroyed again?” the deputy minister of infrastructure, Oleksandra Azarkhina said to the Guardian. “Yes, but it is a risk that we’re forced to take. And frankly speaking, rebuilding is also part of our resistance”
One emotional effort to rebuild has centered around Bucha, the site of a massacre at the hands of Russian forces discovered a year ago, the Guardian reported.
Saturday was the anniversary of the discovery of the mass killings in Bucha, where 1,400 civilians reportedly died — including at least 175 found in mass graves and torture chambers.
“These crimes must be fully investigated and prosecuted along with all the other crimes, and indeed the crimes against humanity that have been committed by Russia’s forces,” Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Friday in Vienna.
“And just as we did in Nuremberg in the last century, the United States fully supports the development of an internationalized tribunal dedicated to prosecuting the crime of aggression against Ukraine,” he added.
Among those who would likely face prosecution: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last month, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of war crimes.