07 May 2024

Western military leaders and experts alike are issuing dire warnings to Ukraine’s supporters: The failure to step up now and supply Ukrainian forces with the ammunition and weapon systems they need could result in the collapse of Ukraine’s defensive lines by this summer. While the Russo-Ukraine War has settled into a highly destructive and grinding war of attrition, the balance of forces is quickly shifting on the frontlines.

As of this drafting, Russia is close to mustering a 10-to-1 advantage in artillery fires; has revamped its defence industry to replace tanks, missiles, artillery shells and other vital battlefield capabilities at a rate (often significantly) outpacing Western suppliers combined; has secured significant external supplies of weaponry from both North Korea and Iran; and has the ability to call up a fresh supply of 30,000 new soldiers to the frontlines every month. While Russia is certainly taking significantly more losses in terms of men and equipment than Ukraine, its strategic depth due to domestic resources, sanctions circumvention and external support gives it the resolve to stay in the fight until it reaches its objectives.

Ukrainian forces are stressed at every level, facing what experts are calling “acute shell hunger”, lacking in capable air defences to maintain their successful air denial campaign, and a dwindling supply of new, trained forces to hold their defensive lines. Facing a long fight in 2024, Ukraine’s key priorities right now have been summed up succinctly by Michael Kofman, a leading expert on the war – Ukraine urgently needs “manpower, fortification, and munitions”.

Despite the significant challenges ahead, Allies must realise that the longer-term variables favour Ukraine. This statement only holds, however, if NATO Allies and their partners surge support for its legitimate self-defence against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion. To enable Ukraine’s forces to hold the lines and build the forces capable of turning the tide in its ongoing fight for freedom against Russian forces, this report recommends Allies focus on the urgent and increased battlefield-vital munitions and weapons systems; including modern air defence systems, precision-guided long-range fires, artillery and their ammunition, transport and fighting vehicles, F-16 aircraft and their required munitions and small arms ammunition. It also places an imperative on increased Allied support for training and underwriting NATO initiatives to support Ukraine, as well as renewed investment in Allied defence industries.