As the war drags on, Ukraine has managed to stall Russian gains over the past month thanks in large part to continued support from the United States and its European allies, and help on the ground from partisans.
After months of bitter warfare in which Ukraine lost territory, Kyiv was recently able to stem Russian advances and force Russia to suffer heavy casualties, with up to 500 Russian soldiers killed or injured every day, according to some estimates.
John Spencer, a retired army officer and director of urban warfare studies for the Madison Policy Forum research institute, said that while Ukraine had lost tactical ground in some areas, its troops had managed to weaken the Russian army.
“They also forced the Russians to spend resources that they cannot replenish,” Mr Spencer said. “You don’t want to say they win the war because there’s so much fighting to do, but from every metric you can think of, especially geopolitically and militarily, they’re making superior gains. “
Russia still retains a huge advantage in the size of its arsenal of weapons, and Ukraine suffered greatly during the war. Up to 200 soldiers were being killed each day at any one time; the number of civilian deaths exceeded 5,000, according to United Nations estimates; and several towns in the country were razed to the ground. But Moscow has not had any major territorial gains since capturing the eastern province of Luhansk in late June.
Ukraine was given a boost on Thursday when defense ministers from 26 countries, including Britain and Denmark, pledged approximately $1.55 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense minister, said the aid would include additional multiple-launch rocket systems and long-range missiles.
“We never tire,” Wallace said of his country’s continued support for Ukraine.
Morten Bodskov, Denmark’s defense minister, said his country would not only help with weapons, but would also help with military training. Mr Bodskov said Denmark’s position on supporting Ukraine is “unwavering”.
Ahead of the aid announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the 26 countries and said the weapons sent to Ukraine should be “such airpower and range as Russia would be forced to finally think about a peaceful solution”.
The aid, which Mr. Zelensky has repeatedly called for since the start of the war, comes on top of another package from the United States that was announced earlier this week. The Pentagon said Monday it would send more munitions to a new shipment of up to $1 billion value of weapons and supplies. With that, the United States will have sent more than $9 billion in aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24.
Mr Spencer said maintaining such continued support from Western countries has taken ‘as much fighting as real fighting against Russian forces, until it shows the world that they are fighting a just war’.
Support to the country has not only taken the form of aid programs, but also help on the ground in the form of supporters, resistance fighters who help the Ukrainian army in territory occupied by Russia.
At least five fighter-bombers and three multi-role jets were “almost certainly destroyed or severely damaged” in explosions at an air base in Crimea this week, according to a British military intelligence report on Friday. Crimea – which Moscow annexed in 2014 – has largely avoided attacks since February and the base was far from any recognizable front line.
A senior Ukrainian official said the attacks were carried out with the help of partisans, but the government did not take responsibility for the attack.