Holy Moly. My head is Spinning

Something snapped in favor of Ukraine.

Shankar Narayan
8 min readJun 21, 2024
My last 24 hours (Licensed Image)

Last week, while taking questions from reporters on the sidelines of the G7 summit, President Biden said that nations waiting to receive American air-defense systems must wait.

“Everything we have is going to go to Ukraine until their needs are met. And then we will make good on the commitments we made to other countries,” President Biden said. He also mentioned that the United States has secured commitments from five countries to send Patriots and other air-defense systems to Ukraine.

It was a significant announcement, which made me wonder why the United States has not yet made this official, or at the very least, announced it from the White House. It was strange.

Between the sanctions, the approval of $50 billion in aid to Ukraine backed by interest payments from Russian frozen assets, and the decision to send multiple Patriot systems to Ukraine, I would have always picked the latter to make a splashy announcement.

But the Biden administration paid a lot of attention to the former while keeping relatively quiet on the latter. As a result, I was cautious, not knowing how to read the situation. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that we can expect an official decision today.

Standing beside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the two signed a 10-year defence pact on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Puglia, Biden added that Kyiv would begin receiving more systems “relatively quickly”.

The US announcement on Thursday will codify Biden’s commitment to Kyiv and ensure that Ukraine gets the Patriot systems it needs to protect its cities and critical infrastructure, two of the people with knowledge of the decision told the Financial Times.

The current production rate for Patriot batteries stands at one unit per month, and the backlog is already running into years according to reports. One thing I have learned from watching President Biden over the last two years is that he tells us what he is thinking. From telling us he won’t make it easy for Ukraine to join NATO, to refusing to entertain talks of a no-fly zone during the early days of the war, to saying no to certain types of weapons, he has told us the truth. We might not like it, but that is different from him saying one thing and doing something completely different.

Similar to Putin, I do watch what the President says, and the fact that he said, “Everything we have is going to go to Ukraine until their needs are met,” is notable. It is not very clear if the President intends to send Patriot batteries that are produced every month. It is possible. But what is very clear, and I am almost 100% confident, is that the United States has decided to send every Patriot interceptor produced from here on to Ukraine until they are stocked up.

Doctoral Research Fellow at the Oslo University, Mr. Fabian Hoffman, believes the decision to rearrange the order queue in favor of Ukraine is extremely important:

Waiting for confirmation, but if this is correct, it is significant. Ukraine needs around 720–1080 Patriot interceptors annually. The United States and its partners currently produce only about 790 interceptors (PAC-2 and PAC-3) per year, with plans to increase this to up to 1070 in the coming years. This is why diverting orders to Ukraine is desperately needed.

Some experts have opined that the United States may also send a significant number of Patriot batteries to Ukraine. I am not so sure. They are definitely sending one unit, and it is possible that this number may increase slightly over the next six months.

Now that the decision to divert production towards Kyiv has been made, Europe can pay for the Patriot systems and deliver them to Ukraine. The United States must remain cautious about how it utilizes the $60 billion approved by Congress to aid Ukraine. There are plenty of other things it can send.

As President Biden made what I consider the second most important decision of the year — the first being the decision to supply the ATACMS — Germany took a huge step towards building Europe’s and Ukraine’s deterrence against Putin’s imperial designs.

Yesterday, the German government placed an order with Rheinmetall, tasking them with producing 155mm artillery shells.

According to Rheinmetall, “deliveries are scheduled to begin in early 2025. The primary buyer will be the Federal Republic of Germany, which will provide part of the deliveries to Ukraine. The partner countries Netherlands, Estonia, and Denmark are also participating in the order.”

Starting in 2025, Rheinmetall plans to produce up to 700,000 artillery shells and 10,000 tons of gunpowder at its sites in Germany, Spain, South Africa, Australia, and Hungary.

This is just one company. There are plenty of others in Europe as well as in the United States ramping up 155mm production. Rheinmetall alone will be able to send 2,000 shells to Ukraine every day in 2025. Adding the supplies from other nations will keep the shells flowing at a strong pace into Ukraine.

The Czech-led initiative collected enough money to source more than a million artillery shells for Ukraine. With Rheinmetall gearing up to produce more than 700,000 shells next year, Ukraine may never fall into a destabilizing artillery shortage like the one they experienced earlier this year, which led to the fall of Avdiivka.

Let me put it this way: Ukraine can manage the next six to nine months by sourcing shells from around the world. A lot of the heavy lifting for this sourcing has been done despite the bureaucratic difficulties that Europe always seems to inflict on itself.

Starting in 2025, Ukraine will have a sustained delivery of 2,000 shells from Rheinmetall. Everyone else will be able to easily double that number.

The West will be able to send 4,000 shells to Ukraine every day on a sustained basis. No more shells in aid packages — just streamlined delivery.

Romania announced that it will send one Patriot battery to Ukraine.

Yes, on the same day the German government placed its largest-ever order with Rheinmetall, Romania’s Supreme Council of Defense met at the Cotroceni Palace, the official residence of the President of Romania.

They decided to send one Patriot battery to Ukraine. The council said:

Considering the significant deterioration of the security situation in Ukraine, as a result of Russia’s constant and massive attacks on civilians and civil infrastructure, especially on the energy sector, as well as the regional consequences of this situation, including on Romania’s security, in close coordination with the Allies, Council members decided to donate a PATRIOT system to Ukraine.

This donation is made on the condition that our country continues its negotiations with the Allies, especially with the American strategic partner, in order to obtain a similar or equivalent system, which meets the need to ensure the protection of the national airspace, to modernize the Romanian Army and to ensure interoperability with the NATO system, being, at the same time, necessary to identify a temporary solution to cover the operational vulnerability thus created.

This was possibly one part of what President Biden said during the summit. He mentioned that the administration is talking to five nations regarding Patriot supply and that they are going to divert the production line to help Ukraine.

It seems that the Biden administration has told Romania to go ahead and send the Patriots, assuring them that they don’t have to worry about the Patriot production backlog, as the U.S. will ensure they receive a priority delivery. President Biden has eased the flow of Patriot batteries to Ukraine using the powers vested in him by the country.

I wish he had done this earlier, but I am happy he has finally done it. This is a massive moment.

I believe the Russians are as shell-shocked as I am. Normally, they would go into a tailspin when big announcements with the potential to change the dynamics of the war come through. I have been waiting to see some response, but so far, nothing. Not even the customary “the West is escalating” rhetoric.

Russians have started using their massive 3-ton glide bombs in the northeast as they desperately try to stop the Ukrainian forces from advancing. I consider the Russian glide bombs the biggest threat facing Ukraine, as they have the potential to deliver huge damage and cause heavy casualties.

There is no way to stop these glide bombs. Once they leave the fighter jets, all you can do is run. If one lands near your trench, you are done. There is no way out. Every bomb is devastating. The only way to stop them is to go after the launchers, the fighter jets. Russian fighter jets should be forced to stay deep and not get anywhere close to the frontline.

Air-defense is the key to turning things around. It will not only protect urban centers, civilian infrastructure, and F-16 fighter jets, but it will also play a huge role in protecting frontline Ukrainian troops from being killed by Russian fighter jets.

Something happened at the G7 meeting. I don’t know exactly what, but we can infer from the actions of the allies. The United States and Germany have made huge strides toward protecting Ukraine and helping them move forward. This could not have come at a worse time for the Kremlin.

Running low on heavy weapons, the Russians are relying on mass infantry and their air force to keep momentum on the field. As the Russian trajectory is on a downswing, thanks to Western partners, Ukraine is on the upswing.

As if these announcements weren’t enough, Putin, by signing a “brothers in arms” type of deal with North Korea, has forced South Korea to step up. Until now, Seoul has only provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine. They are actively discussing what weapons they can send to Ukraine. If South Korea decides to supply Ukraine with weapons, Ukraine’s path to victory will get another booster shot.

https://ko-fi.com/shankarnarayan

Thanks for reading. Making critical information on Ukraine accessible is one way to fight misinformation. That’s why I’ve made 210 stories free to the public in 2024, including this one. Feel free to share it with anyone.

--

--

Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.