Three months into the war in Ukraine, the first batch of U.S. heavy artillery - the most lethal weapon the West has provided to date - is now deployed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, the New York Times reported on May 23 on its website. This includes the U.S.-made M777 howitzer. It has a longer range, moves faster, is easier to conceal and is exactly what the Ukrainian military has been hoping to acquire.
Their arrival increases Ukraine's hopes of gaining artillery superiority in at least some frontline areas - a key step toward military victory in a war that is now being fought largely by long-range means on flat, open plains, the report said.
Arming Ukraine with more powerful weapons is a politically sensitive issue. While Russia accuses the West of fighting a proxy war in Ukraine and threatens to invite certain consequences if the West continues to send weapons, the United States, France, Slovakia and other Western nations have been rushing to deliver heavy artillery and support systems - such as drones, anti-artillery radars and armored vehicles for towing artillery.
In the Western alliance, disagreements have suddenly emerged over how to actively confront Russia. France, Italy and Germany have suggested that Ukraine use its weapons advantage to push for a cease-fire and negotiate the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Ukrainian officials insist that the dynamics are in their favor and that talks will only be held after they win the battlefield and retake territory - once an almost unrealistic idea, but one that became more tenable after Ukrainian forces frustrated Russia several times.