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Ukraine depletes Russian weapons, dependent on allied weapons: report

Now, Kyiv’s forces are using, or learning to use, weapons swung by US and European NATO allies.


Ukraine has depleted its Soviet and Russian-designed weapons and is now completely dependent on allies for weapons to defend against Russia’s invasion, US military sources say.

Once part of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian army and its defense industry are built around Soviet and Russian standard equipment, handguns, tanks, howitzers and other weapons that are not interchangeable with those of neighbors in the west.

More than three months after the conflict erupted when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, that equipment was used up or destroyed in the battle, U.S. sources said.

Now Kyiv’s forces, or learn to use them, use weapons swung by the United States and European NATO allies.

Steady flow

Early in the war, the West was wary of supplying much to Kiev, worried that it might result in a NATO counter-Russia conflict.

They also feared that their advanced weapons technology would fall into Russia’s hands.

Instead, Ukraine’s allies offered their own stock of Russian standard equipment, including tanks and helicopters, to reinforce Kiev’s troops.

The United States also led an effort to comb other former Soviet countries for ammunition, spare parts, and additional supplies that would suit Ukraine’s needs.

But all this has now been used up or destroyed.

“They are away from the world,” a US official said of the standard Soviet and Russian weapons.

This means that Ukrainian forces have to switch to often unknown weapons built according to Western specifications.

In addition to former concerns about the escalating conflict or Russia’s acquisition of sensitive technology, the United States and NATO partners are sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, such as bullets and Himars rocket artillery – the latter offering greater range and accuracy than the Russians have.

Under the umbrella of the 40-member Contact Group for Ukraine, allied defense chiefs are coordinating their assistance so that Kyiv’s forces receive a continuous stream of ammunition, spare parts and weapons, another U.S. military official said.

But officials stressed that if the weapons appear to be arriving slowly, it is mainly because the allies want to make sure that Ukraine’s forces can absorb them steadily and safely.

The pace also limits the risk of accumulated weapons being destroyed by protection in Ukraine.

The United States is therefore sending its weapons into phases.

The latest $ 700 million package announced on June 1 includes four Himars artillery systems, 1,000 Javelin tank missiles and four Soviet standard Mi-17 helicopters.

It also includes 15,000 howitzer shells, 15 light armored vehicles and other ammunition.

“We are trying to maintain a steady flow,” the second U.S. official said.

Pressure for longer-distance arms

Kiev repeatedly called for the longer-range Himars precision missile systems, but Washington only agreed when he felt Ukraine was ready.

Co-chair General Mark Milley said on Wednesday that while four of the Himars systems are being prepared for Ukraine, training is focused on building one platoon at a time to manage it, a process of several weeks which can delay their delivery.

Himars is a “very sophisticated long-range system,” Milley told reporters. “We need to certify these guys to make sure they know how to use the system properly.”

“If they use it properly and effectively, they’ll have a very, very good effect on the battlefield,” Milley said.

But, according to a U.S. official, the United States is unwilling to send Ukraine its Gray Eagle tactical drones for fear they could be used to strike deep inside Russia, a move that could put Washington at risk direct conflict with Moscow.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by techlives staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)

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