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Commander: Ukrainian military scales down some operations over foreign aid shortages

by Martin Fornusek December 18, 2023 5:24 PM 2 min read
Servicemen of the 43rd Artillery Brigade fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000), towards Russian positions at a front line near Bakhmut, Donetsk region on June 15, 2023. (Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images) 
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Ukrainian forces face shortages of artillery shells and have to scale down some military operations due to a decrease in foreign aid, Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said in a comment for Reuters on Dec. 18.

Foreign defense deliveries began running dry as $61 billion from the U.S. remains stuck in Congress due to political infighting, and Hungary blocked the $55 billion in EU funding for Kyiv.

"There's a problem with ammunition, especially post-Soviet (shells) - that's 122 mm, 152 mm. And today, these problems exist across the entire front line," said Tarnavskyi, who commands the Tavria group of forces.

The general called the shortage of shells a "very big problem" and connected it to the decrease in foreign military assistance.

"The volumes that we have today are not sufficient for us today, given our needs. So, we're redistributing it," the commander added, explaining that the military is scaling down its tasks as a result.

Moscow is also dealing with ammunition problems, the general said without providing further details.

Russia's advantage in artillery shells has long been one of the key obstacles pointed out by Ukrainian commanders.

Moscow's defense industry may be able to increase its production to 2 million shells annually in the next few years, an undisclosed Western official told Reuters in September.

Domestic industry is also not Russia's only source of supplies, as it allegedly managed to secure at least 1 million rounds from North Korea.

This number is still not sufficient to cover Russia's war needs, as its troops reportedly fired between 10 million and 11 million shells in the first year of the war.

In turn, Western deliveries play a major role in Ukraine's artillery arsenal, namely the 155 mm NATO-standard rounds.

The EU pledged to deliver 1 million shells to Ukraine by the spring, although many worry that the plan will miss this deadline. Around half of the number is expected to be delivered by the end of this year.

Ukraine finally moves to fortify front line, but could it be too little too late?
“If you want to live, dig.” The words, often spoken by Ukrainian troops, are universal advice for trench warfare in general, but especially for both sides in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Normally expressed as advice to the individual soldier, the maxim now applies to the country as a whole.
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