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8 Feb, 2024 08:06

EU unable to offset Russia’s munitions advantage – Kiev

Ukraine’s main goal is to prevent the ammo shortage from turning into ammo starvation, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has said
EU unable to offset Russia’s munitions advantage – Kiev

The EU’s defense industrial base is lagging behind Russia, which means that Ukrainian troops are suffering from a shortage of artillery ammunition, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has said.

Speaking at a press conference with top EU diplomat Josep Borrell in Kiev on Wednesday, Kuleba stressed that it is necessary to start talks with third countries that buy shells from the EU to redirect deliveries to Ukraine. According to the minister, the two should approach these nations and tell them: “Sorry, we need [the ammunition] to protect Europe.”

He added that if anyone asks a Ukrainian frontline soldier what he needs, the reply would be ‘ammunition’. “The scale of the war and Russia’s use of artillery has reached such a level that, let’s be honest, European warehouses were not ready,” Kuleba said.

According to the diplomat, both Ukraine and the EU are doing their utmost to procure and produce as many shells as possible. He claimed that when Ukrainian troops have no ammo, they stop Russian forces with “other available weapons,” adding that “the main goal is to prevent the ammunition shortage from turning into ammunition starvation.”

Last spring, the EU unveiled an ambitious plan to provide Kiev with 1 million shells over the next 12 months. However, the bloc has struggled to deliver on the pledge, with Borrell estimating last month that Ukraine will receive just 524,000 shells by March. EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has promised that the EU will enhance its production capacity to around 1.3 to 1.4 million shells a year.

Numerous Ukrainian officials have complained about the lack of munitions. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov called it “a very real and pressing problem.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing a Ukrainian official, reported on Wednesday that “Russian forces are outshooting Ukrainians by about 10 Russian shells to every one they fire.”

Officials in Moscow have said they have significantly ramped up the production of ammunition since the start of the conflict in February 2022. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said that Russian troops are being provided with an amount of munitions adequate for “the scope of the tasks they perform.”