Without further aid, Ukraine could lose the war, says US general

America's top military commander in Europe warned Wednesday that Ukraine could lose the war with Russia if the United States doesn't send more munitions to Ukrainian forces, and quickly.

“The situation is extremely serious,” Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, head of the Pentagon's European Command, told the House Armed Services Committee.

General Cavoli, who is also NATO's top military commander, said Ukraine's allies provided much of the equipment and weapons Kiev needed to fight Russia's larger military, including all the fuel donated and 90% of its tanks. But the United States supplies Ukraine with most of two critical munitions that are in short supply: artillery shells and air defense interceptors.

“If we do not continue to support Ukraine, Ukraine will run out of artillery shells and air defense interceptors in a fairly short time,” General Cavoli said. “Based on my experience over 37 years in the U.S. Army, if one side can shoot and the other can't respond, the side that can't respond loses.”

General Cavoli, a Russia specialist in the US Army, rarely speaks in public. His comments during his annual appearance before Congress to present his command's budget request and priorities were a sobering assessment of the impact of the United States' delay in sending Ukraine an aid package from $60 billion that congressional Republicans blocked for six months.

Frontline forces in Ukraine are rationing their artillery shells because they have no reliable Western supplier, General Cavoli said. This allowed Russian troops to defeat Ukrainian forces by a ratio of 5 to 1, the general said. “The ratio will immediately go to 10 to 1 in a matter of weeks” without further American aid, he added.

“Their ability to defend the territory that they currently hold and their airspace would rapidly vanish – will rapidly vanish – without the additional support and without the continued support of the United States,” General Cavoli said.

Its command in Germany oversees multinational efforts to train, advise and equip Ukrainian forces, including on how to operate and maintain weapons such as M1 Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets and HIMARS artillery.

General Cavoli, joined by Celeste A. Wallander, the Pentagon's top policy official for Ukraine and Russia, asked lawmakers to approve the infusion of aid to Ukraine. After months of him refusing to propose the relief bill, President Mike Johnson is now looking for a way to push it forward despite threats from conservative Republicans to oust him if he does so.

Nearly every Democrat on the Armed Services Committee urged Johnson to put the measure to a vote to help thwart President Vladimir V. Putin's war machine. Rep. Mike D. Rogers, the Alabama Republican who heads the committee, also urged support for the aid infusion to Ukraine.

“Congress must pass the additional national security measure,” Rogers said. “If the United States is unable to send more weapons to Ukraine, Putin will win.”

“Almost all the money we spend arming Ukraine doesn't leave this country,” Rogers said. “It goes directly to American companies and American workers to produce more weapons at a faster pace.”

Ms. Wallander said $48 billion of the bill's $60 billion would go to defense contractors in 40 states to produce weapons destined for Ukraine or to replenish the Pentagon's stockpile.

Pentagon officials said that while Russia had lost more than 2,000 tanks and more than 315,000 of its soldiers had been killed or wounded in the war, the Kremlin was rebuilding its army much faster than initial American estimates suggested.

“The army is actually larger now – by 15% – than when it invaded Ukraine,” General Cavoli wrote in his prepared remarks. “Over the past year, Russia has increased its front-line troops from 360,000 to 470,000. The Russian army has increased the upper age limit for conscription from 27 to 30, which increases the number of available military conscripts by two million for the years to come.”

Russia has announced plans to restructure its ground forces and expand its army to 1.5 million soldiers, the general said.

And with that army, Russia not only plans to take over as much of Ukraine as possible – it now occupies about 20% of the country – but also poses a long-term security threat to Europe, according to Pentagon officials.

“Putin will not stop at Ukraine,” Ms. Wallander said.

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