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Russia using freshly-produced shells as supply 'running smoothly,' Ukrainian officer says

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 22, 2024 10:22 PM 2 min read
A Ukrainian soldier prepares 155mm artillery shells in his fighting position in Donetsk Oblast on Aug. 6, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Russia is mostly firing shells produced in 2022 and 2023, showing their ammunition supply is "running smoothly," Roman Holodivskyi, a battery commander in Ukraine's 43rd Artillery Brigade, told the Kyiv Independent in an interview published on Feb. 22.

Kyiv has warned that Ukraine is being confronted with a critical shortage of artillery shells, as $61 billion in funding from the U.S. remains stuck in Congress, causing defense aid deliveries to run dry.

Ukraine's withdrawal from the city of Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast on Feb. 17 demonstrated Ukraine's need for more artillery shells, as well as air defense systems, long-range weapons, and fortifications, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said.

Umerov had said earlier in February that Ukraine was unable to fire more than 2,000 shells per day, around a third of Russia's average daily shell usage.

Holodivskyi reported receiving limits on how many shells can be used on a target at the front line. He was recently given permission to fire five shells, when ten were needed to fully defend against an enemy assault group.

On the front line of Ukraine’s shell hunger as effects of Congress blockade bite
Hiding beneath sparse winter cover in a crude, muddy ditch, a great steel monster lies in wait for an opportunity to attack. Adorned on either side with painted plus signs, the gun’s huge barrel looks up at the sky over the Bakhmut front line, across which thousands

His unit reserved 155mm shells when they were more available but "now, the stores that we saved up are only half-full, and they deliver a lot fewer and a lot less often," Holodivskyi said.

Meanwhile, on the Russian side, recovered fragments and unexploded shells show that they are fresh off the production line, according to Holodivskyi.

"The shells they are mostly shooting with now, they were produced in 2022 or 2023," Holodivskyi told the Kyiv Independent.

"They don't have any hunger, their production lines are running smoothly."

Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Service reported on Feb. 13 that as well as producing new shells, Russia refurbishes Soviet stocks of artillery ammunition, allowing it to produce as many as 4 million units in 2023.

"It is almost certain that Western ammunition deliveries to Ukraine in 2024 will not be able to keep pace," and the gap "in available artillery ammunition between Ukraine and Russia is expected to widen even more in 2024," the report said.

The EU aims to deliver over 1 million shells to Ukraine by the end of 2024.

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