1. The Washington Post: How Ukraine should use the weapons
  2. Politico: Uncle Sam finally coughs up weapons — but is it too late?
  3. The New York Times: Ukraine aid in the light of history

As both chambers of Congress approved the long-awaited aid to Ukraine, Western media outlets are discussing how best to use the weapons from the US.

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Should Ukraine strengthen the front without rushing into a new offensive and target Russian rear positions with ATACMS missiles? Or should they prepare for Russia's summer offensive and wait for Europe to start arming itself (and thus helping with supplies) faster? And is America really shouldering a heavy burden since World War II? reports on what leading Western media are saying about it.

The Washington Post: How Ukraine should use the weapons

The approval of military aid to Ukraine is "like the cavalry riding into town to save the day for the good guys, columnist David Ignatius wrote in his piece for The Washington Post. This is a brief moment to enjoy bipartisan unity in the US.

"But let’s be frank: Delivery of a big U.S. aid package will mean a continuation of this bloody war of attrition, not an ending," he added. A psychological breakthrough for Kyiv and a setback for Moscow, as well as a decisive change on the battlefield, depends on how Ukraine uses this weaponry.

The news is the ATACMS-300 medium-range missiles. This high-precision weaponry will allow strikes deep into occupied territories, hitting Russian airfields, warehouses, bases, and command centers.

"ATACMS will degrade Russian logistics. In the longer term, Russia will have to reconsider its strategy," a senior official from the Joe Biden administration is quoted as saying.

Ukraine will have additional high-precision weapons to use against Russian forces and territories. "New air-defense weapons for Ukraine will again limit the use of Russian aviation, which in recent weeks had been striking power plants and other targets in Ukraine almost at will," Moscow-based analyst Vasily Kashin added.

Former US Ambassador to Kyiv William B. Taylor Jr believes that since the Pentagon has already pre-positioned weapons for Ukraine in southern Poland, supplies will reach their destination "in days."

Air defense is a complex issue because Ukraine uses both NATO and Soviet-era systems. The Congressional decision will allow for the quick dispatch of interceptor missiles. The Biden administration is also asking for Soviet systems from partner countries in the former Eastern Bloc.

Зенітники під Києвом, листопад 2023-го (Фото: EPA-EFE/Oleg Petrasyuk)
Anti-aircraft guns near Kyiv, November 2023 (Photo: EPA-EFE/Oleg Petrasyuk)

The Pentagon's FrankenSAM program, which adapts Soviet-type launchers for American "ground-to-air" missiles, is also improving air defense. This experiment has been successful.

The US is urging Ukrainians to use the aid to strengthen defense lines and hold out until the end of the year, rather than rushing into an offensive. "We need them to build strength this year to be able to take back territory next year," an administration official said.

"The Russians are as tired and demoralized as the Ukrainians are. Though Moscow and Kyiv have both been buzzing with rumors of a big Russian attack, I am skeptical. If the Russians had the capability to break through, they would have done it during the months of delay on the U.S. aid package, Taylor said.

Finland's example of resistance to Soviet-Russian dominance for 75 years before joining NATO is a model for Ukraine.

Dictator Stalin thought he could seize Finland, just as dictator Putin believed he could dominate Ukraine. Each thought he was fighting not a real country, but the troublesome remnant of the Russian empire. Ukraine's idea is to survive.

And now that looks more certain than it did last week.

Politico: Uncle Sam finally coughs up weapons — but is it too late?

The Ukrainian government breathed a sigh of relief when Congress approved the aid after six months of delays, columnist Jamie Dettmer wrote in his piece for Politico.

According to Adrian Karatnycky of the Atlantic Council, "This vote indicates that isolationism is a minority faith in U.S. politics."

Even the rapid delivery of shells will not create an instant parity with the volume of fire from Russia, but it will help reduce the gap, boost morale, and improve the combat positions of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Український військовий показує ящик із снарядами на позиції біля Бахмута, грудень 2023-го (Фото: EPA-EFE/MARIA SENOVILLA)
A Ukrainian military man shows a box with shells at a position near Bakhmut, December 2023 (Photo: EPA-EFE/MARIA SENOVILLA)

There is enough aid for Ukraine to strengthen its defense before a possible Russian offensive. And not enough to go on the offensive itself.

The predictability of supplies has been Ukraine's main headache since the invasion began, as aid has become a hostage to the internal politics of Kyiv's allies and their disagreements over the goals of the war.

"Back in 2022, it was absolutely understandable that Western governments were reluctant to offer military help. They expected Kyiv would fall within 72 hours. When we showed the world we could fight the Russians very successfully and stop them, it changed their minds. And then later, they became more determined because of the Russian atrocities at Bucha," former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.

According to him, the struggle was tough for every new type of missile, for every air defense system, and more 155-millimeter artillery rounds. Because, as Reznikov believes, allies were concerned about the depletion of stocks needed for their own defense.

"And in the middle of the summer in 2023, I absolutely understood there was public and political fatigue and that things would slow even more because of domestic politics in allied countries," Reznikov said.

Western governments also wanted to see what would happen with Ukraine's counteroffensive.

Unfortunately, the unpredictability of supplies is unlikely to improve due to upcoming elections in the US and Europe. But in Kyiv, they hope that even if Trump is elected, Europeans now have time to prepare and fill the shortfall in Ukraine’s needs next year.

The New York Times: Ukraine aid in the light of history

Congress finally overcame Trumpist resistance and approved aid to Ukraine. "I’m simultaneously relieved, ashamed, angry and worried by what has happened," columnist Paul Krugman wrote in his piece for The New York Times.

Relief that the besieged nation will receive aid to survive. At least for a while. Shame that the US has gone so far in betraying democracy. Anger at the political faction that blocked aid for seven months. And concern that this faction remains strong. Most Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the aid and could doom it in the coming years.

Spending on Ukraine is not a huge burden. America is not shouldering it alone. But its aid is crucial – partly because Europe can give money, but cannot yet give enough weapons.

Президент Байден підписує закон про ленд-ліз 9 травня 2022-го. Але Україна ним так і не скористалась (Фото: EPA-EFE/Yuri Gripas / POOL)
President Biden signs the Lend-Lease Act on May 9, 2022. But Ukraine never used it (Photo: EPA-EFE/Yuri Gripas / POOL)

To understand this, it is useful to look at history.

Franklin Roosevelt's Lend-Lease program began providing aid to Great Britain in 1941 before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor drew America into World War II.

People often forget how controversial this aid was at the time. There was an America First movement that opposed aid to Britain when London was fighting Hitler alone in Europe. This was partly because some of the movement's leaders were racists and openly sympathized with the Nazis.

Even fewer people know that Lend-Lease was a deeply partisan issue in Congress. The first bill, at the beginning of 1941, was passed by the House of Representatives with very little Republican support.

Прифронтове місто Оріхів в Запорізькій області, 28 лютого 2024-го (Фото: EPA-EFE/KATERYNA KLOCHKO)
The front-line town of Orihiv in the Zaporizhia region, February 28, 2024 (Photo: EPA-EFE/KATERYNA KLOCHKO)

But the aid went through. By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Congress had allocated $13 billion (equivalent to $276.2 billion today – Ed.). At the time, a huge sum – 10% of America's annual GDP.

However, only a small part of the amount was actual weaponry.

At that time, Europe had begun rearmament many years before the start of the war, and isolationists in the US had not developed the defense industry. Therefore, most of America's aid was in the form of food. So, the US was not so much an arsenal of democracy as a breadbasket.

Compared to this, aid to Ukraine is significantly smaller relative to the size of the US economy: $60 billion is up to 0.25% of US GDP or about 2.5% of the initial Lend-Lease allocations of the 1940s.

What about claims that America is shouldering too heavy a burden? According to the Kiel Institute, European aid has long surpassed American aid.

It is true that the US has given more military aid than Europe. If in 1941 America could not give much weaponry despite the huge size of its economy – due to an underdeveloped military-industrial complex, then Europe is now in a similar situation: it has money and more willingness but lacks an appropriate defense industry.