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24 Jan, 2024 11:53

Ukraine rebukes West for ‘endless discussions’ on munitions

Kiev’s jab comes after its much-hyped counteroffensive failed to breach Russian defenses
Ukraine rebukes West for ‘endless discussions’ on munitions

Ukraine is constantly suffering a lack of munitions to fight Russia because Western policymakers are struggling to provide Kiev with the necessary support as they get bogged down in internal debates, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has said.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt on Wednesday, Kuleba admitted that an insufficient amount of artillery ammunition had been a problem for Kiev since the very start of the conflict in February 2022.

He went on to complain that while Ukraine was doing its utmost to ramp up its ammo production, its Western partners were struggling to do the same.

At the political level, the minister continued, both NATO and EU countries are in favor of increasing production. “But when it comes to making concrete decisions, we see how our partners sometimes drown in endless discussions. The problem is that we don't have time for that. We have to swim.”

Kuleba noted that while he had confidence in the nation’s military, a lack of ammunition meant that more Ukrainian soldiers would die repelling Russian attacks. At the same time, he cited frontline troops as saying that Moscow seemed to be “superior in the amount of artillery ammunition available.”

In the spring of 2023, the EU pledged to deliver one million shells to Ukraine over the next 12 months, but by late November had shipped only one-third of that amount, with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius warning that the bloc was highly likely to miss the target. Against this backdrop, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov last week described the ammo shortage as “a very real and pressing problem.”

At the same time, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton promised last week that the bloc would have the capacity to produce one million shells a year by this spring, with a further 30-40% increase by the end of 2024.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported last month, citing Ukrainian troops, that Kiev’s gunners could only fire 10-20 shells a day, down from 50, adding that Russian forces did not appear to have a similar problem.

The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier this month that the country’s defense base had ramped up artillery shell production by 17.5 times since the start of the conflict. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said that frontline troops are being provided with quantities of ammunition adequate “to the scope of the tasks they perform.”

Kuleba remarks come after Kiev’s much-hyped counteroffensive that failed to breach Russian defenses. The Russian military has estimated Ukrainian losses since the start of the push in early June at around 160,000 troops.

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