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9 Feb, 2024 21:27

Ukraine running out of ammunition – FT

Kiev is “struggling” to hold the line due to a shortage of shells and troops
Ukraine running out of ammunition – FT

Ukrainian frontline units have resorted to rationing artillery rounds because US supplies have stopped and the EU has been unable to deliver on its promises, according to a Financial Times report on Friday.

Kiev is facing a “critical” shortage of Western-caliber artillery ammunition, unnamed EU and US officials told the UK-based outlet. One American described it as a “gap in the hose.”  

“It is a desperate situation on the front lines for the Ukrainians, far worse than they are letting on,” a senior NATO diplomat told FT.

The outlet said it had seen a letter from Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov to EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell, which lamented that shortages are getting worse by the day.

“The old truism still holds true — the side with the most ammunition to fight usually wins,”  Umerov wrote. The “absolute critical daily minimum requirement” for Ukraine was 6,000 shells a day, but its military has been able to fire about a third of that, he added.

A Pentagon official described the situation as “a very grim scenario,” noting that without Congress approving additional aid, the US can’t send over more ammunition from its own stockpiles, or commission new rounds from the industry.

The White House had bundled a $60 billion Ukraine aid package with funding for Israel and the US-Mexico border, which ended up getting stuck in Congress due to domestic political concerns. The foreign aid portion of the bill finally advanced in the Senate earlier this week.

The Pentagon’s own stockpiles of 155mm ammunition had run low by last summer, however, prompting President Joe Biden to send the Ukrainians some cluster munitions instead – and upsetting several NATO allies who had banned their use.

Meanwhile, the EU has fallen far short of its pledge to crank out a million rounds for Ukraine by March 2024, managing to deliver less than half of that number.

“It will not be easy for the Europeans to substitute for the US. That’s not entirely realistic,” one senior EU diplomat told FT. 

Ukraine has become entirely dependent on the US and its allies for ammunition, weapons, equipment and even salaries of government employees. According to Russian estimates, the collective West has poured more than $200 billion into Kiev since February 2022.