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21 Mar, 2024 21:53

NATO tells Ukraine to keep drafting new troops

There is no getting around the manpower shortage, Admiral Rob Bauer has said
NATO tells Ukraine to keep drafting new troops

Kiev needs to mobilize more people to make up for battlefield losses, Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, said on Thursday. 

Bauer, who headed the Dutch armed forces between 2017 and 2021, made the comments at the opening session of the Kiev Security Forum, organized annually by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk.

“You don’t only need new grenades and tanks and armored vehicles, you also need, unfortunately, new soldiers, because soldiers die and soldiers get wounded. And then you talk about mobilization, then you talk about conscription,” Bauer told the audience. 

While the West can provide money and ammunition, the Ukrainians have to provide the manpower, because their country is at stake, he added.

The government in Kiev has officially admitted to only 31,000 troops killed in action over the past two years, though unofficial estimates are at least an order of magnitude higher. According to Western media reports, Kiev’s frontline units were operating at one-third strength as of early last month.

There was talk in Kiev in December about the need for 500,000 new conscripts to replenish frontline brigades and form new ones. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky later said there was no need to mobilize quite so many. The Ukrainian parliament has yet to vote on amendments to the mobilization law, which have sparked intense debate. 

Ukraine has expended much of its weapons and ammunition as well, becoming almost entirely reliant on the US and its allies for logistics. Speaking on Thursday, Bauer admitted that the NATO response to the Ukraine conflict has been lacking in terms of production of weapons and ammunition. He advocated the same kind of approach as was employed during the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine production, arguing that all of society would need to make sacrifices.

“Pessimists don’t win wars,” Bauer said. “And if you look at the facts: there is every reason to be confident in Ukraine’s ability to achieve success.”

Just a short while later, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the capture of Tonenkoye, a village in Donbass to which the Ukrainian forces routed from Avdeevka in February had attempted to fall back. Failed counterattacks have cost Kiev’s forces up to 400 men a day, as well as Western-supplied armor, such as American-made Abrams tanks, the Russian military said.