Ukraine

Russian defeat 'inevitable', US veteran commander says

Moscow is betting against the West fulfilling defence supply promises to Ukraine, a retired lieutenant general explains.

A momentum shift in the Ukraine war means Russian defeat rather than victory is now "inevitable", according to a former commander of US Army Europe.

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges says the outcome of the war comes down to "the will of the West versus the Kremlin" – the latter hoping weapon deliveries and other support packages do not actually reach Ukraine.

The UK has committed more than £2bn in defence donations to Ukraine since the start of the war and recently promised to double the number of long-range multiple rocket systems from three to six.

The US has committed more than $25bn of support as of 7 June, while Lt Gen Hodges believes Moscow's logistics systems are fast becoming exhausted.

By the end of 2022, he thinks Russian forces could be pushed back to where they began in late February, when the invasion began, but that retaking Crimea and parts of the Donbas region, under Russian control since 2014, could take "more time" and maybe even negotiation.

The retired US Army Europe Commander joined other experts in questioning the tactical proficiency of Russia.

"The famous Black Sea fleet (…) is hiding on the other side of Crimea right now, from a Ukrainian navy that doesn’t exist," he explained.

Lt Gen Hodges says fear of Russian escalation and potential use of a nuclear weapons has resulted in a spoon-feeding of weaponry donations rather than bulk offers which would go a lot further.

He estimated 300 HIMARS rocket systems in US possession compared to the 12 it has donated to Ukraine.

Victory for Ukraine depends on the West deciding the threat of Russian escalation is low, he said, which would in turn lead to the provision of "long-range precision fires, endless amounts of ammunition and improved missile defence capabilities".