Ukraine reveals huge weapons losses
Ukraine has lost up to 50% of its heavy-weapons stock, including 400 tanks, a top commander, Volodymyr Karpenko, revealed earlier this week amid the ongoing Russian military offensive in his country.
In an interview with National Defense Magazine, Karpenko said that “as a result of active combat,” equipment losses have amounted to 30-40%, sometimes up to 50%, compared to pre-conflict levels.
So, we have lost approximately 50 percent. … Approximately 1,300 infantry fighting vehicles have been lost, 400 tanks, 700 artillery systems.
Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Denis Sharapov, in the same interview, revealed that Western supplies do not cover Kiev’s needs.
“We have received a large number of weapon systems, but unfortunately with such a massively expendable resource, it only covers 10 to 15 percent of our needs,” Sharapov said.
He did not disclose the exact number of pieces Kiev requires but stressed that the “need for heavy artillery systems is measured by hundreds.”
“We need artillery, we need artillery rounds, infantry fighting vehicles, combat vehicles, tanks. We really need air-defense systems and the multiple-launch rocket system,” he said.
The supply of high-precision weapon systems is also important, Sharapov added, as the Ukrainian military believes that such systems would give it “an edge over the enemy, the upper hand in this war.”
The deputy minister acknowledged the issues Western countries have to deal with while arranging weapons transfers to Ukraine, including obtaining permission for technology transfers from all the subsystems’ owners. However, Sharapov stressed “not all politicians understand the gravity of what is going on in Ukraine.”
“That is why we would like to take this opportunity … to draw the attention of the entire world once again that this is a war not only back in Ukraine, this is the war that impacts the entire world,” he said.
Karpenko was a bit more specific and gave an estimate of Ukraine’s needs.
“Think about this: one brigade occupies around 40 kilometers of the fence line. That means that to cover the active combat conflict we need 40 brigades. Every brigade is 100 infantry fighting vehicles, 30 tanks, 54 artillery systems – just for one brigade, and we have 40 of them,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Russia has been constantly warning the West against “pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, claiming that it will result in the prolongation of the conflict and to a variety of long-term problems. Moscow has also made it clear that its forces would consider any foreign weapons in Ukraine as a legitimate target.
The disclosure of numbers of equipment losses came less than a week after Ukrainian presidential aide Alexey Arestovich revealed that the country's armed forces had lost around 10,000 personnel since the beginning of the Russian offensive in late February. Arestovich claimed, however, that Moscow’s losses are several times bigger. He offered no evidence to support his assertion.
The figures released by the Russian Ministry of Defense on the Ukrainian Army’s losses are significantly higher than those cited by Arestovich – 23,367, as of April 18.
Russia has not revealed its more recent losses – neither of equipment, nor of personnel. Earlier this month, the head of the Russian Duma’s defense committee, Andrey Kartapolov, claimed that, due to changes in military strategy, the Russian Army has “practically ceased to lose people.” That is why, he said, the Defense Ministry has not updated information on the losses since March, when it reported 1,351 military personnel had been killed.
In April, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia had suffered “significant losses of troops” and it was “a huge tragedy.”
Russia attacked the 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 protocols were 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.