War in Ukraine: Zelensky’s allies are increasingly worried

War in Ukraine: Zelensky’s allies are increasingly worried
War in Ukraine: Zelensky’s allies are increasingly worried

Allies are scrambling to maintain supplies to Ukraine by searching the world for ammunition. However, the implementation of these initiatives is slow, so it is not clear whether they will bring enough benefits in the near term to keep the Ukrainian front line stable.

“We cannot waste time in vain,” stressed Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in an e-mail. in a letter to Bloomberg. “Long-term commitments are important, but it’s also clear that the warring party with more ammunition will win.”

Allies of President Volodymyr Zelensky are increasingly worried that a Russian summer offensive could breach Ukraine’s defenses, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They added that Russian forces are currently firing seven times more ammunition than their opponents. This is twice as much as at the end of January, when Kyiv warned its allies that Russia’s armament was three times larger.

Ammunition shortages persist, although Western leaders are increasingly aware of the cost of delay. According to one official familiar with the aid discussions, they know it will be more expensive to defend NATO territory if Russia makes a significant push in Ukraine.

That’s why Ukraine’s European allies have gone on the hunt for munitions after months of delay over whether it’s acceptable to use EU funds for foreign purchases. One initiative is led by the Czech Republic, and Estonia is preparing for another.

At the beginning of the week, Ukraine was given hopes that more than 60 billion dollars in US military aid may be unblocked. House Speaker Mike Johnson has said he wants to see the funding approved “immediately” — although other House Republicans have given it no more than a 50 percent chance of success.

Ammunition shortages and the threat of a Russian attack are likely to be discussed on Wednesday when NATO foreign ministers gather in Brussels to celebrate the alliance’s 75th anniversary. NATO was founded as a response to Soviet aggression during the Cold War.

V. Zelensky told the Washington Post last Thursday that without support, Kyiv’s military would be forced to retreat and hand over territorial gains to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who could then target major cities.

“If you need 8,000 rounds a day to defend the front line, and you have, say, 2,000 rounds, you’re going to have to back off,” he said. – How? On the way back, of course. Shortening the front line.”

Ukrainian forces are resisting the Russian offensive by digging trenches and building barricades to fortify the 2,000 km long front line. They have also moved into new arenas, attacking more than a dozen oil refineries on Russian soil with drones loaded with explosives in the past month.

As a result, Russia’s fuel production has declined, which Zelensky says will continue despite the displeasure of the United States. A European official working in the US said that Washington’s influence in this matter is diminishing day by day, as the Americans are unable to provide aid to Ukraine.

But the damage goes both ways: Russian airstrikes are also destroying Ukrainian infrastructure. The same official said the damage in the last few weeks is probably the worst of the entire war and will likely have a long-term strategic impact that will only add to the munitions shortage.

According to the estimates of the Ministry of Defense of Estonia, this year Russia should produce or upgrade about 4.5 million. of ammunition. And that’s in addition to the munitions it gets from North Korea and Iran.

Meanwhile, the EU in 2024 will produce only 1.4 million cartridges, and next year – 2 million. The US aims to 2025 produced 1.2 million ammunition, but that effort will also depend on Congress approving an aid package. European companies are working with Ukrainian companies to increase domestic production, but these efforts will also take time to bear fruit.

According to officials briefed on the situation in the battles, Ukraine’s supply of ammunition should not necessarily match Russia’s, since the modern weapons systems used by the Ukrainians are more accurate than Russia’s, but there should not be such a large gap either. One of the officials said that even increasing Ukraine’s rate to three rounds for seven rounds fired by Russia would be a significant boost.

Western officials say Kiev’s stockpiles should stabilize later this year and next year, when U.S. and European production increases. But the biggest problem is how to bridge the gap until then.

Since European defense companies are no longer accepting new orders for the next year or two, the EU’s goal is to send Ukraine 1 million by March of this year. artillery ammunition had to be postponed until the end of the year. Since that target was set, more than 12 months ago, only half of the promised volume has been shipped.

Estonia, which committed to allocate 0.25 percent of its GDP to help Ukraine, called on other European countries to also allocate more funds and discuss the possibility of joint borrowing, thus strengthening the continent’s defense industry.

A Czech-led plan to buy hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, including from non-EU countries, is expected to begin bearing fruit in June. Although that is still several weeks away, it is hoped that at least it will give Ukrainian forces the courage to use more ammunition.

However, major countries such as France and Spain have not yet made any financial commitments to the Czech plan, although they have verbally endorsed it. In addition, EU members are still debating the legality of a plan to use profits from frozen Russian assets to buy weapons.

Discussions between Japan and the United Kingdom over the purchase of ammunition also appear to have stalled, and Brazil has rejected requests from allies to supply Kyiv with ammunition, European and Brazilian officials said.

“We know that Russia’s military industry is working three shifts, and Ukraine’s stockpile is rapidly dwindling,” Kall told Bloomberg. “Without our support, this war might as well be lost.”

The article is in Lithuanian

Tags: War Ukraine Zelenskys allies increasingly worried


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