At least 23 people are said to have died and more than 200 injured after cruise missiles smashed into a business centre in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia last week. The salvo, launched from a Russian submarine off the country’s Black Sea coast, comes amid a sharp spike in the number of rocket attacks, hitting a civilian target more than 300 miles away from the front lines.

Analysts say that Moscow has resorted to long-range bombings as part of an “operational pause” that has seen fewer firefights along the tense front lines in the Donbas. Ukrainian officials, however, have been warning that the worst is yet to come. “Undoubtedly, preparations for the next stage of offensive actions are underway,” military intelligence spokesman Vadym Skibitsky told The Kyiv Independent, sparking fears of a new offensive.

“No Russian missiles or artillery can break our unity,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement over the weekend. However, at the same time, he and his officials are warning that, without more support from the West, their own long-range capabilities may not be able to hold the line against Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Given Ukraine has demonstrated it can effectively protect its airspace, limiting the role of warplanes, and it can blow up vast columns of heavy armour, making mechanised assaults incredibly dangerous, the fighting now seems to hinge on the ability to fire on enemies from afar.

Kyiv is asking for more howitzers, tanks and drones, as well as other advanced systems, as part of efforts to defend its eastern frontiers. Acknowledging the requests for aid sound like a “never-ending loop,” Zelensky told German tabloid Bild last month. We need support to survive and win,” he said. “And the less willing our partners are to help us with arms, the longer this war will last and the more people will die.”

Since then, the US has signed off on a $1bn package that will see advanced shells, launchers and other equipment reach those defending Ukraine. Yet according to American officials, there is a reluctance to over-promise hardware when their own arsenals are starting to feel depleted. The country’s manufacturing industries simply aren’t geared up to meet the demands of a drawn-out conventional war, and there are concerns Russia can out-manufacture it when it comes to munitions.

Likewise, the pressures of training troops to handle the gear means fewer people on the battlefield, so analysts fear the consequences of handing over too much all at once. The chair of the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed, told the New York Times last week that “there are no good choices in a situation like this. You have to take your best artillery officers and enlisted personnel and send them back for a week or two of training. But in the long run, I think that’s probably the smarter move.”

Another potential problem is that politicians in the West are being confronted with the economic fallout of Russia’s war. With a cost-of-living crisis squeezing people across the world, leaders will undoubtedly be looking for budgets to shake and repurpose. Election cycles and short-term incentives mean that as the conflict drags on, and its tragedies slip from the headlines, there is an increasing risk that that massive spending Ukraine has benefited from begins to tail off.

For now, though, minds still seem to be focused on the war raging in Europe. On Monday, the EU announced another half a billion euros in funding to supply arms to Ukraine. The money will be used to fund the transfer of arms and armour.

Despite that, there is a risk that stocks of long-range weaponry could be diminished quickly. The same day Brussels unveiled its spending package, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu ordered his forces to target the Western weapons that have already been handed over. According to state media, he “instructed commanders to prioritize the destruction of enemy long-range missiles and artillery with high-precision weapons.”

In reality, Russia has few high-precision weapons to spare, having long resorted to the so-called “dumb bombs” that aren’t vastly different to those pushed out the back of planes in the Second World War. However, focusing what it does have on Ukraine’s new artillery, while stepping up production back home, could turn the war into a battle over who can get the most hardware to the frontline. For the moment, however, the shifting front lines appear to be holding steady. And yet, maintaining the stalemate is unlikely to be a viable long-term solution, and it seems certain neither side would accept a peace deal that leaves it short of its objectives. In Kyiv’s case, that’s regaining its entire sovereign territory, while Russia knows there is no time limit on the conflict, and the longer it drags on, the more land it can take.