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19 Jan, 2024 07:38

Ukraine warns of ‘very real’ ammunition shortage

The lack of shells has become a “pressing problem” for Kiev’s forces, the country's defense minister has said
Ukraine warns of ‘very real’ ammunition shortage

Ukrainian ammunition stocks are running low, the country’s defense minister, Rustem Umerov, has admitted. His comments come as Kiev’s allies announce the launch of a so-called “artillery coalition” to help Ukraine amid the conflict with Russia.

The group of 23 nations was announced during a meeting of Ukraine’s backers in Paris on Thursday. According to Le Monde and France 24, Umerov was scheduled to attend gathering in person but canceled the trip at the last minute for “security reasons” that remained undisclosed.

The defense minister instead addressed the summit in the French capital via a video link, saying that “there’s is no alternative to modern artillery; we have to keep up our efforts and increase munitions production.”

Following the event, Umerov warned on X (formerly Twitter) that “a shortage of ammunition is a very real and pressing problem that our Armed Forces are facing at present.”

“The artillery coalition is aimed at solving this issue,” he wrote, adding that he was thankful to France for its “leadership” in the initiative.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Thursday that Paris could produce 78 Caesar truck-mounted 155mm guns for Kiev’s needs by early 2025. According to the minister, six howitzers have already been paid for by Ukraine and will be delivered “in the coming weeks.” France will fund the production of 12 more Caesars, Lecornu said, urging other allies to jointly provide the 250 million euros needed for the remaining 60 guns.

On Wednesday, the head of the French Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Cedric Perrin, said that Ukraine has been firing between 5,000 and 8,000 shells per day, compared with up to 15,000 by Russia.

The statement followed a Senate report, which stressed that France, which produces 20,000 shells per year, and other EU governments were “not up to the challenge” of meeting Kiev’s ammunition demands. The lawmakers urged Ukraine’s allies to “step up a gear.”

Last year, the EU vowed to supply Kiev with 1 million shells by March 2024. However, Ukrainian officials have said that the country has only received around 300,000 rounds from the bloc so far.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Kiev by the US and EU will not prevent it from achieving the goals of its military operation and will only increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.