Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 11.08.2018
Ukraine defends Europe from Russian invasion, alone. When Putin began his war – in February, 2014, in Crimea – the Ukrainian army was left to face the Muscovy army without the support of allies. Miraculously, Ukrainians stopped the invasion from Russia, but not before Crimea and part of Donbas were occupied. Ukrainian soldiers continue to give their lives in the trenches of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, holding back the Muscovy invaders from Ukraine, from Europe, and from the West.
Self-sufficiency is the key to Ukraine’s survival from the Russian onslaught. Friends of Ukraine and fellow democracies proved to be so timid and sclerotic that they have betrayed Western values. Not only did the United States, Germany, France, Britain, and Canada fail to stop Putin at war, they refused to help Ukrainians defend themselves – and the West! – by supplying the Ukrainian army with desperately needed weapons and ammunition. This is the only way that Russia, a “regional power” that is acting “not out of strength but out of weakness" (as President Obama put it on 25 March 2014), could have succeeded as well as it did.
In 411, the Emperor Honorius wrote to the people of Britain, telling them to look to their own defences. The Roman Empire no longer had the will or the capacity to fight the barbarians. In 2014, Ukrainians could see that the Great Powers no longer had the will to fight Muscovy barbarians, even when Putin’s horde blatantly invaded the largest country that lies wholly within Europe. Ukrainians determined to look to their own defence, and build their army into a force which could stop Muscovy.
Ukraine has restored industrial production of large calibre artillery shells. On August 9, the Artem plant in Kyiv started to manufacture 152 millimetre shells, which have become the scarcest of all ammunition in Ukraine after over four years of Putin’s War. This calibre of shell is used by the 2S5 “Giatsint-S” self-propelled gun, which is equipped by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The maximum range of a 152 millimetre shell fired by a Giatsint self-propelled gun is 33 kilometres, firing at a rate of five or six per minutes.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the new production line at the Artem plant, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talked about how lessons had been learned from the grim first year of the war: “Someone wanted to bring Ukraine to its knees. That is why we could not buy ammunition from abroad … though now we can. The plant in Luhansk was taken, equipment was taken away to the Russian Federation, stolen, looted and exploded.”
But the 152 millimetre calibre is a Soviet standard. Ukraine aspires to join NATO, and was promised eventual membership in the alliance at the 2008 Budapest summit. It is up to Ukraine to adopt the technical standards required of NATO armies. One of these is the 155 millimetre shell. From it’s legacy Soviet arsenal, Ukraine lacked compatibility with the NATO standard.
Now that deficiency has been corrected. On August 10, Ukraine revealed the new 155 millimetre self-propelled howitzer “Bohdana” (on photo). This artillery system is intended to destroy command posts, armoured and mechanized units, artillery batteries, communications posts, and field fortifications. The “Bohdana” is mounted on a KrAZ 6x6 truck chassis. It will be able to fire its 155 millimetre shell at ranges up to 40 kilometres (possibly 10 or 20 more kilometres beyond that with newly-developed rounds) at a fire rate of six per minute.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Secretary, Oleksandr Turchynov, spoke about the new “Bohdana”: “There were no weapons of such caliber in our Armed Forces, neither were they in the Soviet Army nor does it exist in the modern Russian army. … The weapon got a very beautiful feminine name ‘Bohdana,’ and I advise the enemies of Ukraine to memorize it well.”
After other Western democracies abandoned them to fight Russia alone, the Ukrainian people looked to their own defence. Ukraine increasingly has a self-sufficient defence industry, to supply an effective army that is stopping the invasion of Europe from Muscovy.