As the world witness the tragedy unfolding in Israel-Palestine, Russia has upped its tempo in Ukraine. Russia has launched its own offensive operations along multiple axes of the frontline. However, the simultaneity of Russian offensive with the ensuing of gory conflict in Israel and Palestine is not merely a coincidence. Russian actions are a deliberate attempt at capitalizing on the development in the Middle East. As the US and the European nations divide their attention to Israel-Palestine conflict, Russia seeks to exploit this opportunity and expand its territorial control over Ukraine.
The US has announced deployment of Florida Carrier Strike Group closer to Israel after Hamas launched a surprise and ferocious attack on Israelis. The Israeli government responded with intense retaliatory airstrikes. The casualties on both sides are large. Being the closest ally, the US had been supporting Israel with military aid for a long period of time. However, with the possibility of a wider escalation of the conflict looming ahead, the US has begun supplying additional munitions and military hardware to Israel.
On the other hand, Ukraine is still struggling to make gains in its counteroffensive against the Russian forces. The war in Ukraine has been characterized as a war of attrition . In a war of attrition, the size of military inventory, production capacity and available human resources are instrumental in deciding the course of the war. Ukraine lacks the capacity for a military production of the scale that is required for its operations against the occupying Russians forces. It is heavily reliant on the US stock of military equipment and ammunitions. Any diversion of US military supplies will adversely impact US’s capacity to deliver military equipment and ammunitions to Ukraine. This dilemma has already been expressed by the US military officials.
At the same time, threats from Hezbollah in Lebanon which enjoys considerable support from Iranian has raised the stakes in the Middle East. The Iranian and Syrian government will look to aid any incursion into the Israeli territory. There has already been cross-border skirmishes along the Israeli-Lebanon border with casualties on both side. As the war in the Middle East increases in scope, Israel will have to invest immense military resources to counter these threats. This is why Israel will need a sustained support from the US. Israel will look to avoid opening another front whereas Hezbollah will likely seek to draw Israel towards Lebanon in order to over stretch the Israeli Defence Forces.
The move by US to bring its Carrier Strike Group closer to Israel serves two purpose. First, it helps check military supplies going into Gaza for Hamas. Second, it acts as deterrence for Hezbollah and any other power hostile to Israel. Furthermore, as the US is looking to bolster its own military presence in the Middle East, they also need to commit their resources for their own forces. This puts additional pressure on its military stockpiles. Given the national security risk, US cannot afford to spare their resources as generously as it had been doing so far.
Another issue relates with the duration of conflict. As the war in the Middle East flares up, it is likely that region will see a lengthier confrontation. This is another factor that makes resource allocation for the US trickier. The US has to save enough munitions in case for contingencies and at the same time it needs to supply its allies engulfed in gruesome conflicts. If the war in the region drags on for a longer duration, the US will have to reduce the rate of military supplies to its allies.
Shortage of military supplies has always been a concern in Ukraine and as the US progressively commits itself in the Middle East, the issue will further aggravate. Ukrainians will not be able to replenish their stock as quickly as they ought to. Ukraine stands vulnerable as the US divert its military supplies.
According to the Institute of Study of War (ISW), Russian forces have launched offensive operations along multiple axes. In particular, Avdiivka has seen intense bombardment by the Russian forces in recent days with Russian forces being able to make some advances. Similarly, Russians have launched offensive operations in Luhansk and Zaporizhia Oblasts. Clearly, the Russians have switched from their defensive stance to an aggressive one.
For Russia, the more the US gets dragged into Israeli-Palestine conflict, the better its chances for further territorial gains in Ukraine. Furthermore, the ongoing development coupled with already divided US congress over Ukraine has only emboldened Russia. The conflict in the Middle East has come as a respite to Russian forces battling Ukrainian counter offensive. The Russians see an opportunity and have therefore decided to leave their trenches and move to dismantle Ukrainian fortifications.