After Nato summit and western promises the decisive battles for Ukraine lie just ahead

Can the heavy weapons promised by the west get into Ukrainian hands in time to turn the tide? Correspondent John Ray explains

In the wake of the G7 and Nato summits, that realist’s realist, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday spoke of an Iron Curtain descending again across Europe.

It has been a bad week for Moscow. The West has promised to stay the course with Ukraine, however long the course takes.

Any private tensions between ‘peace talks’ and ’long war’ factions have been buried. Europe and the US are in public united. Nato is expanding along Russia’s border.

Putin rages against new members Sweden and Finland, but they sound like empty threats.

Diplomatically, it’s been a good week for Ukraine; whose president looked almost upbeat when we saw him at a press briefing in Kyiv on Wednesday.

But on the brutal battlefields far to the east of the capital; nothing has changed. The Russians continue to grind out a costly advance. The Ukrainians’s fight an equally costly rear-guard action.

The focus just now is on the city of Lysychansk, where Russian troops on Thursday stormed the oil refinery and took over the north of the plant. Their progress is slow, relentless and agonising.

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Victory would leave Russia with, more or less, control of Luhansk province – half of the Donbas region Putin claims now is his war aim.

The war is then likely to turn to neighbouring Donetsk. Will Ukrainian forces be able to halt the Russians; to turn the tide?

All will depend on better air defences and long range artillery. Those fine western promises need to be made real.