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By David Axe
Graphics by Taylor Maggiacomo
Mr. Axe is a staff writer at Forbes and a nonfiction author, graphic novelist and filmmaker.
Tens of billions of dollars of weapons have flowed from European and North American countries into Ukraine. Rifles. Bullets. Missiles. Artillery pieces.
At first, those nations insisted that the weapons were “defensive,” designed to help Ukraine fight off a marauding Russian Army that had stormed, unprovoked, across the border.
One year later, as the battered but still potent Russian military prepares for a renewed offensive, the type of weapons heading into Ukraine have changed dramatically. Now, what’s flowing in from the West are armored vehicles, long-range rockets and advanced tanks.
The distinction between offensive and defensive weapons was always a little arbitrary. Now, though, Ukraine will have the ability to play offense and potentially drive Russia out of their country using some of the best weapons in the world. That means the stakes for all sides have increased substantially.
It’s no secret why. After successfully liberating huge areas of southern and northeastern parts of their nation last fall, Ukrainian forces are reportedly planning a new counteroffensive this year. Allied countries are reaching deep into their arsenals to make sure this anticipated counteroffensive has the best possible chance of succeeding.
When, back in February last year, Russian forces crossed into northern Ukraine while also advancing deeper into eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, the United States and other allies prioritized shipments of ammunition, shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles, air-defense systems and — most importantly — artillery, including hundreds of big guns that are compatible with Western-style shells.
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