Another country sends howitzers to Ukraine – report
Poland has donated 18 AHS Krab self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, state-run radio reported on Sunday, citing an unidentified government source.
In addition to donating the heavy artillery pieces, Polish military forces trained about 100 Ukrainian artillerymen to operate them, Polish Radio explained. The 155mm guns will provide the firepower for three artillery squadrons.
“Thanks to the Polish aid, the Ukrainians now have at least 24 Western self-propelled howitzers,” the broadcaster outlined.
The Polish howitzers have already arrived in Ukraine, according to the report. Kiev also has received M777 155mm self-propelled howitzers from the US, as well as Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark, Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov said on Saturday. France has donated its version of the 155mm self-propelled howitzer, called Caesar, providing six such systems to Ukraine.
Like the M777 and the Caesar, the AHS KRAB is a NATO-standard howitzer with a maximum firing range of about 40 kilometers. It was designed in Poland for the Polish Army. The system operates with a five-man crew and can fire as many as six shells per minute. It’s built by Polish defense contractor Huta Stalowa Wola.
Despite design flaws that reportedly led to hull cracks, engine overheating and leaky fuel and exhaust systems, there were 96 AHS KRABs in service as of last year. The design combines a South Korean K9 Thunder chassis with a British AS-90M Braveheart turret.
Warsaw claims to be the second-largest donor of military hardware to Ukraine, behind only the US. Those weapons include T-72 tanks, Gozdzik self-propelled howitzers, air-to-air missiles, drones and Grad rocket launchers. The AHS KRABs will enable Ukrainian troops to target Russian forces from longer distances amid Moscow's major offensive in the Donbass region.
Reznikov claimed on Saturday that Ukraine will “still win” its conflict with Russia, thanks partly to foreign-supplied weapons. The newly arrived Harpoon missiles will help Kiev regain control of its Black Sea ports, he said.
Moscow has declared Western weapons stockpiles in Ukraine “legitimate targets,” and it frequently conducts air and missile strikes against them.
Russia attacked its neighboring country following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.