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It has been about a year since Ukraine was making final preparations for its much-vaunted spring counter-offensive against Russia.

The aim was to break through the Russian lines and recapture large parts of occupied territory. But despite a surge in military support from the West, the counter-offensive fell short of expectations and Ukraine failed to push back Russian forces.

Our military analyst, Sean Bell, says Ukraine has since delivered an “incredibly robust defense,” but a long delay by the US Congress in approving a multi-billion dollar aid package for Kiev has “taken its toll.”

“Ukraine has lost ground on the front line and Russia has gained momentum, which has damaged Ukrainian morale and cost lives,” he explained.

Will the US decision to provide $60 billion in military aid turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor? This is one of the topics Bell discussed in this week’s Red Matrix podcast.

Russia could make progress this summer

Momentum is crucial in warfare, Bell says, and Russia has it in abundance after taking advantage of Ukraine’s highly publicized weapons shortage to attack its energy infrastructure, cities and front lines.

Despite the heavy Russian losses, Bell said Vladimir Putin will want to seize the opportunity to inflict more losses on Ukraine “before American military aid can be delivered.”

“Many military analysts believe that Russian advances in key sectors of the front line are likely to be repeated this summer, as there are growing indications that Russia is preparing for a large-scale summer offensive,” he said.

Putin’s long game

Putin is preparing for a long war in which Western support for Ukraine will eventually decline, Bell says.

“Russia has more soldiers, has tripled the size of its defense industrial base to create a sustainable weapons stockpile… and can finance the war through massive and sustainable oil revenues,” he explains.

Ukraine, meanwhile, is “critically dependent” on Western aid.

Despite the contrast in military power, Bell does not expect a strategic Russian breakthrough – as Moscow’s success on the battlefield is “not a foregone conclusion.”

He points to recent comments by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said Western allies can defend Ukraine the same way they defended Israel from a recent Iranian attack.

“Why don’t we provide the same level of support to Ukraine?” Bel says.

Western hesitation encourages Putin

The West “has the military power to stop Russia’s invasion,” Bell says, but has so far been deterred by escalating Russian rhetoric.

But the longer Russia “tolerates” Russia’s actions, the more emboldened Putin will become, making him a “more dangerous threat to the West” in the coming years, he added.

Regardless of the massive US military aid package to Ukraine, Zelenskyy and his forces appear to be having a “very difficult spring and summer,” Bell says.