From devastating drones to cyber warfare
WHAT more could the West do to stop Putin’s onslaught?
Should NATO set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine? Or should it provide fighter jets? And what about boots on the ground? Should British soldiers enter?
Many ideas that may seem obvious are fraught with danger. We look at the options with former British army chief General Richard Dannatt, right, who says what would work – and what wouldn’t.
Unmanned aircraft capable of dropping bombs are very effective weapons and have already been successfully deployed by the Ukrainian military.
Dramatic video footage showed a Bayraktar drone hitting a Russian supply convoy. These Turkish-made machines carry four laser-guided missiles that can cripple lightly armored vehicles. Other NATO countries could provide similar technology.
General Dannatt says, “It’s a matter of sophistication. If weapons can be used effectively, that’s fine. Ukrainian forces must be able to operate them.
HELPING the Ukrainian air force would help its defenses considerably.
Many wondered why the 40-mile convoy approaching Kiev had not been eliminated, which could be due to reduced air power.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced that EU states would provide fighter jets. But this idea was quickly abandoned because it involved too much “interference”.
General Dannatt says, “The fighter jet problem is similar to the no-fly problem. Putin would like to provoke the West so he can say that NATO is involved.
“Training is also a problem. It is unrealistic to think that you can provide intermediate technology weapons to a country without providing the training, even if they need it.
Anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons
EU countries have joined the UK in providing man-portable anti-tank missile launchers and will also send anti-aircraft weapons.
But offering more sophisticated defense systems would be problematic because there is not enough time to train Ukrainians to use them.
General Dannatt says: “When the UK supplied 2,000 small anti-tank weapons before the war started, we also sent trainers.
“If these Ukrainian operators are still alive and missing, we should send more weapons.”
ECONOMIC sanctions are already hitting Russia hard, with its currency falling to record lows.
But much of Putin’s war effort is funded by the money he gets from supplying gas and oil to EU countries.
Disabling these supplies could help cripple the Russian economy to a point where Putin cannot fund a costly war.
But it would also inflict economic pain on Europe.
General Dannatt says, “We have to be prepared for energy prices to skyrocket. This war is going to cost us all pain.
“What is most important is that the sanctions really hurt the Russians in the hope that the Russian people will turn against Putin.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was challenged by an impassioned Ukrainian journalist to stop Russian bombs with a no-fly zone over the country – but it was ruled out by world leaders.
NATO is expected to monitor the area by flying jets from allied states, such as Poland. If a Russian plane were shot down, it would immediately put NATO on a war footing with Russia.
General Dannatt explains: “On the face of it, the idea is reasonable, but in practical terms the police pose enormous dangers. It would no doubt be challenged by Russian planes.
“Suddenly we would escalate the conflict not only between Russia and Ukraine, but between Russia and NATO. So not just WWIII, but two nuclear powers at war.
Food, water, medicine and fuel
Stores haven’t run out of food so far, but supplies will disappear as Russia begins to surround cities.
Putin’s attack has stalled due to a fuel shortage, and the West must find a way to keep Ukraine mobile.
The Red Cross – for whom the Sun’s Ukraine appeal is raising funds – is a vital organization helping.
General Dannatt says, “We don’t want the aid convoys to be bombed. This is why the Red Cross is so well placed.
“If the Russians destroyed a convoy displaying red crosses, that’s yet another war crime.”
Cyber warfare and intelligence
HACKER Anonymous’s recent attack on news sites in Russia – which caused them to post anti-Putin messages – demonstrates that cyber warfare can be a powerful tool.
The West is already helping Ukraine keep its internet open thanks to American entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite.
General Dannatt says, “We should look for opportunities to conduct offensive cyber operations to inhibit Russian command and control and, if necessary, shut down Russian business lines.
“I’m sure we provide information and intelligence. For the past five years, Britain has provided training teams to Ukraine.
UKRAINE needs manpower to retain the 190,000 troops Putin has mustered.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss first backed British citizens taking up arms in Ukraine – and some are already on the front line.
But now lawyers are warning that anyone considering joining the fight could be prosecuted under anti-terror laws.
General Dannatt says: “Those leaving are probably ex-soldiers who would be better placed to help. Service personnel could not take a vacation to go and fight in Ukraine.