NATO urged to supply Ukraine with key weapons to blitz Russian tanks

Ukrainian crews reload a HIMARS launcher

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NATO must give Volodymyr Zelensky the artillery needed to hammer Russian tanks whose manoeuvrability will be severely curtailed for the next few weeks during “muddy season”, a Ukraine-based ex-US marine has said. However, John Sennett believes the West is unlikely to supply Ukraine with fighter jets any time soon – if at all.

Mr Sennett, 57, who currently lives in the west of the country but who is planning to move back to Kyiv shortly, was speaking the day after defence ministers met in Brussels today to discuss their priorities for supporting Ukraine.

A statement issued by the alliance afterwards said they had agreed on the need to work “hand-in-hand” with the defence industry to ramp up industrial capacity, and were already reviewing NATO capability targets for munition stockpiles.

Mr Sennett, who will return to the capital with Belarusian wife Natasha and dog Philly, and who last year offered a first-hand account of the aftermath of a missile strike there, told there was no time to waste, not least in terms of supplying the Ukrainian armed forces with the tanks they have been promised.

In a direct message to defence leaders, he said: “First off get the guys trained and get the tanks here as fast as possible – we need heavy armour.

“But the problem with it is that the mud seasons coming so a lot of stuff’s not going to move.

“What we really need as much artillery and as much ammunition as possible. That would be my top priority, shells, howitzers, the more the better because the mud season means that nothing heavy is going to be able to move really easily, it doesn’t matter what side it’s on.

“And the Ukrainians aren’t gonna waste theirs, the Russians will waste theirs with no problem but if we have have precision strike artillery, we’ll be able to take out a lot more equipment so that when the mud season ends and Ukraine can go on the offensive, a lot of Russian equipment will have been knocked out already.

“What’s going to happen when the mud season comes is that moving tanks through that stuff or anything that’s heavy, any heavy artillery, any heavy armour, any personnel carriers, it’s very difficult to move through that mud.

“Once that stuff sets in you can’t go on and offensive on either side really easily or you’re going to waste a lot of manpower, you’re going to waste a lot of equipment and you going to lose a lot of troops.

“Russians will probably do it but I doubt the Ukrainians will because the Ukrainians don’t really want to waste their resources.

“They’re pretty much going to let the Russians come at them through the mud and if they have the weapons that can destroy all that stuff, that’s coming that that’s better.

“We are getting those long-range HIMARS so the more logistics we can take out further away the better.

“HIMARS will come in handy to knock out logistics, and communication and headquarters so that when the time comes to go on the offensive Ukraine should be at an advantage.”

Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly pushed the West to commit to supplying his country with aircraft, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week left the door during the Ukrainian President’s visit to London by saying “nothing is off the table”.

However, Mr Sennett was dubious, saying: “I don’t think that Ukraine is going to get fighter jets anytime soon.

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“And when I say soon, I don’t even know what’s going to happen within a year at this point.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to see jets in this war for Ukraine before the war ends, unless the war goes on for years, which is obviously is obviously the fear.

“But they don’t they don’t need jet so much to destroy a lot of that heavy armour.

“Of course, it would come in handy, but really what they need is artillery and lots and lots of precision ammunition and the long-rage HIMARS.”

Speaking before yesterday’s meeting, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC Russia had not been able to “punch through” Ukraine’s defences, despite an estimated 97 percent of its army being in Ukraine.

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