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American veterans training Ukrainian front-line troops have told Newsweek that U.S. and other NATO weapons can turn the tide against invading Russian forces, warning that defenders face a “dire” situation as Russia focuses on battles raging on the eastern front.

Two members of the American Mozart Group—founded by former Marine Corps Colonel Andy Milburn and a play on the name of the infamous Russian mercenary Wagner Group—speaking from Ukraine that locals there are motivated but risk being overwhelmed without more Western weapons; particularly modern and long-range artillery systems.

“It’s a bit of a slugfest,” explained Martin Wetterauer, a former Marine Corps colonel who spent time in the Joint Special Operations Command and served tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, and Afghanistan in his more than 30-year military career.

“If we can increase their skill set, then ultimately over time hopefully they’ll get better and more advanced weapon systems,” Wetterauer—now Mozart’s chief operations officer—said of Ukrainian troops. “With the fighting spirit that they have, there’s no doubt they will turn this war. It’s just going to take a while.”

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