Wednesday, April 17

Ukraine asks the west for huge rise in heavy artillery supply | Ukraine

Ukraine has called on the west to supply 300 rocket launchers, 500 tanks and 1,000 howitzers before a key meeting on Wednesday amid concern in some quarters it is pushing its demands for Nato-standard weapons to the limit.

The maximalist request was made publicly by Mykhailo Podolyak, a key presidential adviser, on Twitter on Monday where he argued that Ukraine needed “heavy weapons parity” to defeat Russia and end the war.

That would require, he said, 300 of the multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) – vastly more than seven or so committed thus far by the US and UK – and greater than the 60 or more that other advisers have previously said would meet its needs .

Podolyak’s full list also included “1,000 howitzers” of the Nato 155mm standard, several times more than what has been dispatched so far. The US, the leading arms supplier, had delivered 109 by the end of May.

A special meeting of defense ministers takes place on Wednesday in Brussels, which will be chaired by Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, to discuss future weapons donations, the third such meeting since the war began. Ben Wallace, his UK counterpart, is among those scheduled to attend.

It comes at a time when Ukraine’s military is struggling to resist an intense Russian artillery-led assault on its eastern Donbas region and losing, on some days, 200 soldiers killed in action in the heaviest fighting in Europe since the end of the second world war .

Amid such pressure, the meeting has acquired a particular significance in Kyiv, which wants substantial and rapid ammunition deliveries so that it can try to force the Russian invaders from its territory before the weather turns.

Also Read  Huge scale and impact of Israeli incursions over Lebanon skies revealed | Lebanon

Some experts said that Podolyak’s tweet was best interpreted as a negotiating gambit. But there are also questions whether such overt lobbying could be counterproductive, particularly with countries such as Germany, which has repeatedly hesitated over weapons supply and been slower than the US and UK in delivering to Ukraine what it publicly promised.

German weapons committed at the end of April include howitzers and Gepard mobile artillery, but the artillery is due to arrive at the end of this month and the specialist armored vehicles in July, to the frustration of Kyiv.

The other demands made by Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, were “500 tanks; 2,000 armored vehicles; 1,000 drones” – all significant numbers of heavy weaponry that would dramatically alter the military balance and, in some cases, run down western supplies considerably.

Three hundred MLRS would roughly amount to half the US existing stock. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) the US army has 363 Himars truck rocket artillery and 225 M270 tracked launchers, and the US Marines have a further 47. The UK has 35 of its version of the M270s.

Last week, another Ukrainian presidential adviser, the military analyst Oleksiy Arestovych, said Kyiv would need 60 of the rocket launchers to stop the Russian invaders “dead in their tracks” – and some believe that Ukraine’s real demand is for 100, well in excess of the current level of western offers.

A gift of 1,000 howitzers would roughly match the US arsenal. IISS figures, compiled before the donation of 109, show that the US army has 518 M777 towed howitzers of the type already supplied and the US Marines a further 481.

Also Read  Cientos de venezolanos son detenidos después de ser señalados por medios chavistas

However, there are many more than 500 tanks available to western powers. The US army alone has an estimated 2,645 Abrams tanks and somewhere around 3,450 more in storage, according to the IISS’s annual review of military stocks.

Both before and at the beginning of the war western countries said they would only supply “defensive weapons” to Ukraine to either stop an invasion or halt an advance. Russia, however, has succeeded in occupying a significant portion of territory in the east and the south, prompting calls for its forces to be pushed out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *