Ukraine’s weapons wish list could leave US weakened – media
A new weaponry wish list, claimed to be sufficient to “throw Russia out of Ukraine,” was unveiled on Monday by Mikhail Podolyak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. The new call has effectively pushed Ukraine’s demand for Western-made weapons to the limit, with even the US at risk of running out, multiple media outlets have suggested.
The demand includes 1,000 NATO-standard 155mm howitzers, 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles, and 1,000 drones. It is unclear what types of drones and armored vehicles Kiev needs to repel the ongoing Russian offensive that began in late February.
Fulfilling the demands would effectively require the US – the top supplier of weapons to Ukrainian troops over the course of the conflict – to disarm its own military, multiple Western media outlets pointed out.
The number of MLRS systems requested, for instance, amounts to roughly half of Washington’s remaining stock of such weapons, The Guardian reported, citing figures from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The US Army has some 363 HIMARS wheeled rocket artillery pieces and 225 M270 MLRS tracked launchers, while the US Marines have a further 47.
The demand for 155mm artillery would effectively empty the US of active stock altogether, as it would require the Pentagon to surrender nearly all of its M777 howitzers, according to the article. However, the newspaper failed to mention that the US has other, older towed artillery systems in reserve which could potentially be supplied to Kiev.
The only demand that appears to be relatively easy to satisfy is the requirement for tanks, as the US Army alone is estimated to have a fleet of around 6,000 Abrams units in storage and on active duty, The Guardian noted.
The Financial Times took a different approach, interpreting Podolyak’s wish list as a complete Ukrainian wartime demand that has been partially fulfilled by previous deliveries from Western countries, rather than a completely new list. The newspaper also counted “pledged” hardware, citing figures from the Ukrainian government and Oryx website, which it described as a “respected open-source intelligence outfit.”
Even taking this approach, Podolyak’s wish list could only be covered partially with some 270 tanks “delivered or pledged” during the conflict. The newspaper also counted some 250 155mm howitzers on the list, apparently including both towed and self-propelled pieces. The multiple-launch rocket systems figure looks the most hopeless, with only around 50 pieces – apparently older Soviet-era launchers supplied by several European nations – included on the list.
The US and the UK, as well as multiple other Western nations, have actively supplied the Ukrainian authorities with assorted weapons both before and since the start of the ongoing conflict. Moscow has repeatedly warned the West against “pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, arguing it will only prolong the conflict without changing its outcome.
Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, 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.