The United States does not expect the new weapons systems recently supplied to Ukrainian forces, including the HIMARS multiple rocket launcher system, to immediately change the situation on the battlefield, in part because these systems are so far sent both with a limited range and a limited number of rockets to ensure they are not fired into Russian territory. Additionally, Russian forces were able to destroy some of the new weapons supplied by the West, including M777 howitzers, in targeted attacks.
US assessments, which increasingly face a long and arduous battle in eastern Ukraine, come as the months-long war has reached a pivotal moment in recent days. Ukraine’s military is burning Soviet-era munitions that match older systems, and Western governments are facing a tough decision on whether to continue to increase aid to the country.
US assessments paint a bleak picture for the future of the war, with high personnel and material losses on both sides. US officials believe Russian forces plan to maintain intense attacks in the east, characterized by heavy artillery and missile strikes, with the intention of wearing down Ukrainian forces and NATO resolve over time. time.
Russia’s progress has been highlighted in recent days after Ukraine’s defense of Lysychansk – the last town in the Luhansk region it still holds – became much more tenuous. Over the past two days, the Russians have advanced through several villages south of Lysychansk, not without suffering casualties from Ukrainian artillery fire.
In the coming weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address upcoming G7 and NATO summits virtually, senior US administration officials have said, as the leader seeks to bolster Western support for his country. At the G7, President Joe Biden will unveil measures alongside other leaders to increase pressure on Russia to invade. And at NATO, the United States will announce steps to “strengthen European security, alongside major new contributions expected from allies,” an official said.
Members of Ukraine’s parliament told U.S. lawmakers that the Russian military had calculated how much ammunition Western allies had in stock for the Ukrainian army’s Russian-made artillery and planned to wait for Ukrainian forces to move on. wear out over time.
“Putin is not deterred and I don’t think he ever will be,” Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN.
“This war could last for years,” he added.
At home, the United States and NATO partners are beginning to see the limits of their own supplies of some advanced weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles. These weapons systems have their own complicated supply lines, which means replacing the thousands of such missiles already supplied to Ukrainian forces could take years.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense watchdog has opened an assessment of the department’s plans to replenish its own stockpiles of ammunition and equipment as it continues to supply significant quantities to Ukraine, it said. the agency on Wednesday.
“The purpose of this assessment is to determine the extent to which the DOD has planned to resupply its equipment and ammunition provided to Ukraine,” the department’s inspector general said in a statement.
Devan Cole, Katie Bo Lillis, Barbara Starr, Natasha Bertrand, Oren Liebermann, Tim Lister, Donald Judd and CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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