american military aid ukraine
© REUTERS/Serhiy Takhmazov
US military aid being shipped to Ukraine
Ukraine's European benefactors made a big show of rushing military aid to Kiev in the early months of Russia's special military operation, but the torrent has waned to a trickle since then, with no new pledges being made in July. One military expert said Europe is running out of both equipment and willpower to support the "horribly corrupt regime."

Scott Ritter, a military analyst and former US Marine Corps intelligence officer, told Sputnik on Thursday that NATO's policy of giving Ukraine billions of dollars in weapons that so quickly get destroyed is "inefficient and counterproductive" from both a political and a national security point of view."

The more Europe invests its military capacity into Ukraine, the weaker Europe gets," Ritter said.

Proxy Wars Are Expensive

"I think there's a couple of things at play here. One, and I think first and foremost, is that Europe has bankrupted its own military capacity by transferring military equipment to Ukraine in an unconstrained manner. It's becoming clear to all that Ukraine is facing a very difficult time on the battlefield. Weaponry is being provided by Europe, by the United States, by NATO, and this weaponry is not being absorbed in a coherent manner by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Instead, it's being received and rushed to the front where it is not being used effectively and increasingly it's being destroyed by the Russians. This is very expensive, very inefficient. It's detrimental not only to Ukraine's military capability but also the nations providing the equipment. They're literally stripping bare their own inventories to support Ukraine in a losing cause," Ritter explained.

"The second part of this equation is, not only is this inefficient and counterproductive from a national security standpoint, but it's expensive and counterproductive from a political standpoint," he said. "I think the political cost of supporting Ukraine is about to become very, very high."
"Many political leaders in Europe now are going to be facing an increasingly hostile constituency, demanding answers as to why their leaders committed: a) economic suicide by joining in on a failed sanctions effort; b) are further bankrupting the nation by stripping bare their own arsenals, requiring them to expend money to restock. This is an expensive proposition. And c), supporting what is increasingly being documented as a very corrupt and, frankly speaking, vile regime in Kiev."
Kiev's Mask is Slipping

Ritter noted how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "is no longer seen as the savior" by Westerners. "More and more, he's being seen as what he has always been, an incompetent politician operating way above his capabilities."

In particular, he recalled how a damning CBS documentary about the conflict was partially retracted earlier this month after it revealed that some 70% of equipment given to Ukraine never reaches the battlefield, either because the Russians destroy them or because they're sold off on the black market. Forthcoming trials in Mariupol can also be expected to further peel back the Western myths about the Azov Regiment and other neo-Nazi units being anything but fascists.
azov headquarters ukraine yuriivka mariupol
© AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russian soldiers walk inside the Ukraine's Azov Regiment base adorned with the unit's emblems in Yuriivka resort settlement on the coast of Azov Sea not far from Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, May 18, 2022
"It's a horribly corrupt regime. It's also a regime that is being linked to an odious ideology, the old ideology of Stepan Bandera - a neo-Nazi, right wing, ultra-nationalistic ideology responsible for the murders of hundreds of thousands of people in the years of World War II and the decade afterwards, people who terrorized, murdered, raped ethnic Russians in the aftermath of the Maidan coup that took place in 2014," Ritter noted.

"I think you're seeing Europeans starting to recoil from this and saying 'This is not what we want to be seen as supporting.' All of this, when you bring it together, explains why people aren't willing to continue to dispatch military equipment to Ukraine."

Ritter dismissed the idea that Berlin and Paris could continue to send weapons to Kiev at the same pace that they have been. In this area, too, they will soon be eclipsed by Washington.
"Military equipment is not produced with the snap of a finger. And it requires a budgetary process. It requires careful coordination with the industrial base, and equipment is procured over the course of several years. What Europe has done by providing this equipment to Ukraine is in one fell swoop, in a matter of months, they've taken decades of military procurement and transferred it to Ukraine with no plan on how to replace it. You can't just simply pick up the phone and say, 'give me a hundred more tanks,' 'give me a hundred more artillery pieces.' It doesn't work that way. They have literally destroyed the very fabric of their national security by stripping bare their coverage with no means of replacing this. They've already bankrupted themselves. There's really not that much left they can give to Ukraine."
'This Can Only Be Resolved Politically'

Ritter said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is "out of his competency level" in commenting on military affairs, especially in making claims like "This war will be won on the battlefield."

"You weren't going to see a general talking about that in that way," he noted. "Fact is, most military people said that this can only be resolved politically, this being the conflict in Ukraine. Borrell is way off base. He's out of his competency level and he's just playing wrong. Who's going to solve this on the battlefield? What military in Europe today is capable of standing toe to toe with the Russian military in Ukraine and beating them? And the answer is none. There's nobody that can do this."

Ritter said Germany and France, the two powerhouse NATO nations in continental Europe, are "paying a horrific economic price" and political price for their efforts to bring the US back firmly into the NATO fold, following four years of vacillation by former US President Donald Trump.
putin porochenko normandy talks ukraine
© AP Photo / BelTA, Andrei Stasevich
Normandy format talks. Putin and Poroshenko meet.
"[N]ow the United States has committed to NATO and has committed NATO to this horrendous mistake: that is the expansion into Ukraine, the confrontation with Russia, and this very expensive proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, that NATO is losing and losing decisively," Ritter said. "But there's a lot of politics at play here. And it's not as a matter of just simply snapping your fingers and saying, 'Okay, we've made a mistake, we're done, we're going to now reexamine a new European security framework.'"

Ritter recalled Berlin and Paris were also key guarantors of the Minsk Accords, which were supposed to settle the Donbass conflict in the context of autonomy for the Russian-speaking regions.

"It's not only that they failed to pressure Ukraine. It appears, according to [Petro] Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine, that they were complicit in a scheme that used the Minsk Accords as a sham method to extend the negotiations, knowing they would never be finalized, to buy time so that NATO could train Ukrainian Armed Forces so that they would be in a position to be able to retake all of the Donbass and perhaps Crimea," Ritter noted.

"Germany and France were part and parcel of this effort, so they need to be careful. They're very exposed here in terms of the politics of that. But reality is reality. And the reality is that the current European security framework, dominated as it is by American national security interests, is unsustainable for Europe," he said. "They are paying a horrific economic price and they will probably pay a political price. Some of these leaders that are in power today won't be in power in the coming months as their citizens rise up through the democratic process and remove them for incompetence and for pursuing bad policies."

"The last problem is Russia sort of owns the notion of European security framework having defined it, and their needs and their requirements in December of last year, through two draft treaties shared with NATO and the United States. For Germany and France to pursue a new European security framework would mean that they are stepping away from the United States and stepping toward Russia. That's very politically difficult to do, no matter how justified it might be."
frontline warning sign Ukraine war
© Sputnik / Sergei Averin
Eight years of conflict have left a mark: it will take decades to demine the territory of the republics. Photo: A warning sign at a position near the line of contact with Ukrainian forces near Spartak village in the Donetsk region.
'Somebody Else is Going to Have to Seek Peace for Them'

Ritter said that, like World War II after the Battle of Kursk, everyone knows that Ukraine has lost. The question is whether or not the government in Kiev is capable of making peace; he predicts not.

"It's going to be a victory in accordance with all of the prerequisites accomplished - demilitarization, de-Nazification and NATO removed from Ukraine. Russia has also now appeared to put some territorial requirements," Ritter said.

"The key question is, how does this end at some point?" he asked. "There's going to be a need for a political collapse in Kiev, where the current cadre of warmongers and nationalists have to be removed. They will not seek peace. Somebody else is going to have to seek peace for them."

"I think it's becoming clear that the current regime in Ukraine cannot be entrusted to govern in a responsible fashion, and I think Russia's taken it as part of their policy that they will protect ethnic Russians going forward, which means that they will probably acquire additional territory in Ukraine where ethnic Russians live. This takes time. It's not going to happen overnight. As much as Russia is winning the war, there's still a very strong Ukrainian military on the field that's receiving military assistance from the United States and NATO. So there's a lot of work left to be done."