Ukraine War, November 21, 2023: Munitions for a long-term war of attrition

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1) Gregor Schwung und Ibrahim Naber, “‘Beschämende Vorschläge’ für Waffenruhe – Glaubt nur noch Selenskyj an den Sieg? Die Welt, den 20. November 2023;

2) Gregor Schwung and Ibrahim Naber,”‘Shameful proposals’ for ceasefire – Does only Zelenskyj believe in victory?” Die Welt, November 20, 2023


Ukraine faces a long drawn-out war of attrition against Russia, which expanded its 2014 invasion the Donbas into an all-out invasion of the whole country on February 24, 2022..

Western military support risks flagging. Of the one million artillery shells the EU promised Ukraine this year, it has delivered barely a third and will not reach its promised goal. President Biden’s proposed $60 billion in aid is tied up in Congress, and faces fierce opposition in tbe Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

While this aid may after great delay eventually be approved, behind it looms the possibility of the reelection of Donald Trump as President in 2024. While Trump’s reelection would in all probability greatly curtail U.S. military aid to Ukraine, given Trump’s admiration for Vladimir Putin, his dominance of the Republican Party could even result in Republican blocking of further aid to Ukraine in the short to intermediate term.

President Joe Biden’s extremely cautious approach to prosecution of the war could lead to setbacks for Ukraine. Biden has failed to move the U,S. toward the kind of wartime economy that could produce the weapons and ammunition Ukraine will need to achieve further successes on the battlefield.

Moreover, his continuing restrictions of Ukrainian use of Western-supplied weapons to attack targets in Russia proper, in exercise of its right of self-defense under international law and the U.N. Charter, represents a strategic error of the first magnitude which severely handicaps Ukraine in its prosecution of the war.

Similarly, Biden’s refusal to supply ATACMS artillery shells of longer range (300 km or 180 miles) of the right variety (e.g., capable of attacking the Kerch Strait Bridge), and in sufficient quantity, and German Chancellor Scholz’s refusal to supply German Taurus cruise missiles (with a range of up to 500 km or 300 miles) continue to deprive Ukraine of military advantages it needs to win the war. The failure to supply F-16 fighter jets and training in a timely manner and in sufficient quantity has been another major shortcoming of Biden and the West.

The failure to provide artillery shells and other ammunition in sufficient quantity to meet Ukraine’s needs is merely emblematic of the failure of Biden and the West to understand the utter gravity of the situation and the ultimate stakes in the conflict.

Meanwhile, Russia is reported to be dedicating 40% of its budget to ramping up its war machine, with munitions factories churning out weapons and ammunition 24/7 with three shifts a day.

The way things are going, Russia seems to have a good chance of winning a long war of attrition on the battlefield, or perhaps an accelerated victory due to political developments in the United States and other countries.

The Trenchant Observer


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About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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