*The Economist headline: Vladimir Putin’s war is failing. The West should help it fail faster*
Sub-headline: Ukraine’s friends should reinforce its success by sending more and better weapons
One of the many excuses Vladimir Putin has given for invading the country next door is that Ukraine and Russia are “one nation”, which should be united under his benign rule. “Do you still think that?” asked Ukraine’s president, as his troops swept thousands of Russian invaders from Kharkiv province this week. Volodymyr Zelensky’s triumphant sarcasm was justified. The Kharkiv counter-offensive, which began on September 5th, marks the most dramatic Russian reversal since Mr Putin abandoned his effort to seize Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, at the end of March.
Its significance is not just the liberation of 6,000 square kilometres of territory in a few days—more than Russia had gained in the previous five months. Nor is it Ukraine’s seizure of the tanks, guns and boxes of ammunition that the Russian soldiers left behind as they fled in disorder. Ukraine has also recaptured two transport hubs, Izyum and Kupyansk, which Russia needs if it is to complete its conquest of the Donbas region and integrate it into Russia. Mr Putin’s plans to stage phoney “referendums” on annexing occupied parts of southern and eastern Ukraine are now on hold, as Ukraine counter-attacks in both areas. Predictions in war are always risky, but the tide seems to have turned. Russia’s occupation is everywhere held in check, and Ukraine is gradually—and sometimes suddenly—rolling it back.
Ukraine’s battlefield advances rest on two pillars; materiel and men. In hardware it has an ever-increasing edge. America and other friendly states have sent it rockets with enough range and accuracy to shift the terms of engagement. Ukraine can see and reliably hit enemy ammunition dumps, command centres and logistics nodes far behind the front lines; Russia cannot. Russia’s supposed air superiority has been suppressed by mobile air defences. And whereas Russia is running down its stocks of weapons, Ukraine’s are growing both more plentiful and more powerful, as superior nato equipment replaces its old Warsaw Pact kit.