Travelers passing through the Polish airport of Rszeszow, in southeastern Poland, hardly realize that the most important center for military aid to Ukraine was created here. Away from the civilian airport building, the 50 states that support Ukraine have established a military camp under US leadership. Behind the airport fence, NATO also built an imposing line of defense to protect the eastern perimeter of the alliance with the Patriot anti-aircraft systems.
The military part of the small Polish regional airport is now the “Fort Knox” supporting Ukraine. The United States and Britain had already started transporting light anti-tank weapons for the Ukrainian army here before Putin’s invasion.
On the ground, the logistics update cannot be overlooked. Military transports are constantly seen on the roads of the region. But exactly how Western aid for the Ukrainian military gets to the front lines is one of the best-kept secrets of this war.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock indirectly confirmed that the Polish region on NATO’s external border has become the central axis of aid. In mid-September, after a trip to kyiv, she announced in an interview that a “maintenance center on the Polish-Ukrainian border” would be established.
Wear of the Panzerhaubitze 2000
Bundeswehr General Christian Freuding was in kyiv in early September for talks with the Ukrainian army. The head of the “Ukrainian Special Staff” at the German Defense Ministry reported on the wear and tear of the Panzerhaubitze 2000 (an armored, self-propelled artillery piece), which Germany delivered to Ukraine.
Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank on its way to Ukraine.
“It has been in action since May. And now, of course, it has operational limitations,” Freuding explained. In these weeks before the arrival of winter, there is much to be done in terms of repairing worn-out Western weapons after the successful counteroffensive. of the Ukrainians in the northeast of their country.
Stockpile of spare parts
“Logistics must be strengthened,” says security expert Wolfgang Richter, from the Science and Policy Foundation (SWP), which advises the German government in Berlin. “And that’s exactly what’s happening now,” he says, pointing to the discussion of the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks by Germany.
Intense war wears down weapons. “Spare parts for different types of Western weapon systems need to be kept as close to the Ukrainian border as possible,” Richter tells DW. “And second, you need trained personnel who can repair Western weapons systems.” It is a difficult task because the war equipment of many countries requires “completely different spare parts and in large quantities.”
Looking ahead to the coming months of war, Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies research program at the US Navy’s Center for Naval Analysis, says the war in Ukraine will be one of “wear and tear.” Although Ukraine has a good chance of being able to gradually liberate more areas after the great success of late summer, Kofman is hesitant to predict how long the war will last. And so the region around Rszeszow will probably have to adapt to the large amount of military equipment on its roads for a long time.