Will Ukraine’s Newly Developed Long Range Missiles Make A Difference?

In September 2023, Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelensky announced the development of a new long range missile, which has the capability to hit a target 400 miles away. According to the Defense Post, his announcement came just days after several regions of Russia were struck, including an airport near Russia’s borders with Estonia and Latvia. The AP reports that the new long range missiles were developed through Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries and that the recent airstrikes were meant to break Russian morale. 

The incorporation of this new technology comes at a pivotal point in the war. Many U.S officials have vocalized their dissatisfaction with the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. General Mark Milley told the BBC that Ukraine has around a month left to continue their counteroffensive before the winter compromises their military operations. The mounting pressure from Washington coupled with an impending winter means Zelensky is seeking military victories in the near term. The urgency to regain annexed territories likely contributed to the development of the long range missile. Kyiv is intensifying their military operations in the hopes of breaking Russian morale and securing future military aid.

While Kyiv claimed that the long range missile was a result “of our own production”, it is very unlikely that the United States was not involved in the process. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, the United States has sent at least 77 billion dollars of military and financial assistance to Ukraine from January 2022 to May 2023. It is likely that billions of dollars have gone to various Ukrainian agencies, including the Ministry of Strategic Industries. Furthermore, it is well documented that there is an extensive intelligence sharing effort between the United States and Ukraine. According to the New York Times, Ukrainian Officials utilized U.S intelligence to plan the counteroffensive, which included information on command posts, ammunition depots, and military lines. Due to the heavy funding and collaboration between the United States and Ukraine throughout the war, it is reasonable to assume that Kyiv did not develop these weapons without some type of financial or intelligence support. It is likely that Washington wanted to avoid any escalation between itself and Moscow, which is why the development of these weapons was branded as a purely domestic effort. 

The general consensus in Washington and the EU is that if Ukraine receives further weaponry and economic support it will win the war. While this was a reasonable assumption towards the beginning of the conflict, following the successful 2022 counteroffensive, recent developments make this an unlikely prospect. Despite increased weapon shipments in the last few months, Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been mostly unsuccessful with high casualty rates. Because Russia built vast defensive lines in the months leading up to the Ukrainian operation, the war has turned into one of attrition. According to the AP, the West has already sent substantial numbers of HIMAR, air defense, and artillery systems, alongside hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles. Besides a handful of extremely controversial and dangerous weapons, the West has already exhausted all of its military supply options. Furthermore, the Kremlin will likely match the West’s supply of weapons by securing munitions from other sources. The AP reports that Putin invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Moscow. It is speculated that Putin is trying to acquire munitions from North Korea to refill Russia’s depleting stocks. 

If one is to look at the conflict objectively, it is clear that there will not be a definitive winner anytime soon. The front lines have stabilized and the war has devolved into an intense battle over small towns. While the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty should not go unpunished, an entire generation of Ukrainians and Russians should not be sacrificed for a mere principle. What is most important in the current conflict is for the fighting to stop, either through a ceasefire or some more comprehensive treaty. Acknowledging how reliant Ukraine is on the West, the Biden Administration could single handedly force Kyiv to come to the negotiation table. This will likely receive a lot of pushback from various public and private interests, such as weapons manufacturers and war mongers. However, according to a CNN poll, 55 percent of Americans oppose sending further weapons to Ukraine. With enough public pressure, American citizens can force the Biden Administration to change its foreign policy to better reflect U.S interests and peace.