War in Ukraine. Ammunition is running low in Kiev. Post-Soviet arms may run out

Switzerland repeated. In early November, the government in Bern rejected Berlin’s request for permission to supply Ukraine with Swiss-made 35 mm ammunition.. It is used in Geppard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns handed over to the Ukrainians by Germany. Bern explained the same answer in June with its neutrality.

According to the media, This time, Germany requested permission to supply the Ukrainians with nearly 12,500 rounds of ammunition for Cheetahs.. Ukraine has received 30 guns from Germany, which are used among other things to combat drones. Even before the Cheetahs reached Ukraine, they were told in Germany that they might run out of ammunition.

This shows how difficult it is for Ukraine to transition from Soviet to NATO equipment. Kyiv has been receiving Western weapons for years, and deliveries accelerated in the weeks before the Russian invasion. But it was only in the spring of this year that the Ukrainian authorities began to talk about a large-scale transfer of equipment. “We are at a new stage on a basis that no one dared to dream about,” Dmytro Kuleba, head of Ukrainian diplomacy, wrote on Facebook in April. “It is about converting the Ukrainian army into NATO weapons, to NATO standards. This is what is happening,” he said.

It is difficult to say at what specific stage Ukraine is now in this transition. It is a fact that the country receives a large amount of arms from the West. But distributions have their limitations. Only a few modern, heavy weapon systems exist. For example, we are talking about the air defense system recently provided by Germany Iris-D Or American Nasams. Several dozen howitzers were delivered from NATO countries or HIMARS rocket launchers from the United States. Old appliances like Americanand the M113 armored personnel carrierSeveral hundred were awarded.

“The critical point of Western weapons is maintenance, repair and (partly) supplies,” he says. Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Hrabskyj. “It’s more demanding than using a gun,” he adds. This may be the reason why the transition to Western weapons has been slower than Kiev would have liked. The technical base for servicing Western equipment is established not in Ukraine, but in neighboring NATO countries.

Another problem with Western weapons is that there are many variants of the same weapon – American, British, French, German, Swedish, Hrabskyj points out. Because although the standard is the same, there are differences in the service of such weapons. This was confirmed by Colonel Markus Reisner of the Austrian General Staff. “The Ukrainians have so far been able to handle the equipment they’ve got very thoughtfully,” he says. Logistics remains a challenge: we are dealing with many different weapon systems. – It is difficult to provide the right ammunition for the right weapon, Ukraine is a big country – he adds.

However, Western weapons have one thing in common – this Short-range systems that can be used within a radius of several tens of kilometers. Kyiv wants to acquire long-range missiles and Western aircraft and battle tanks. But this desire has not yet been fulfilled.

Most of the Ukrainian weapons are Soviet-made equipment, supplied mainly from Central and Eastern European countries – and the necessary logistics are provided, experts interviewed by DW say. In the air force, Ukraine has only Soviet machines, and in the case of artillery there are many more types, Hrabskyj emphasizes. The same is the case with tanks and armored vehicles. There are exceptions, but most are Soviet equipment.

Here is a recent example. The United States, along with the Netherlands, announced the delivery of 90 modernized T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic to Ukraine in early November. Previously, Kyiv had already received several hundred vehicles, mainly from Poland. Ammunition is also provided. But the course of the war is so intense that the equipment wears out quickly, which is confirmed by previous reports. “There is a lack of technology, almost no Soviet-caliber ammunition” – Ukrainian director and soldier Ole Sentsov wrote on Facebook about his service near Pakmut in early August. “NATO systems are great, but there are very few of them.”

Could the situation in Ukraine quickly become critical when post-Soviet resources are exhausted and Western supplies cannot replace them? Discussions on this topic are going on in social media and there are no official data because they are confidential. – The lack of missiles for Buk-M1 or S-300 air defense systems was evident. – says Gustav Kressel, an expert at the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“When the Russians attacked with cruise missiles or something like that, Ukraine only fired two, three out of eight or ten because they had almost no ammunition,” he adds. After delivering the IRIS-S and NASAMS systems, many more were shot down. Recently, some NATO countries have also decided to hand over older anti-aircraft systems such as the American Hawk-Eye to Ukraine.

Another delicate question is how long will post-Soviet munitions last? Ukrainian stocks had shrunk before the war, when a series of explosions occurred at ammunition depots, which were considered sabotage. Kressel estimated that Eastern Europe did not have many Soviet weapons. – It depends on what we’re talking about, but it’s relatively over now – he adds. A few factories in Eastern Europe could produce ammunition for Soviet weapons, but the room for maneuver was not great. Kressel says that the Strzała or Osa formations, which Kiev also receives from partners in Eastern Europe, have less and less ammunition.

According to Kressel, Kiev’s desire to fully transition to Western systems is justified. The whole process can proceed faster if there are some countries – This includes Germany – He took political decisions quickly.

According to However, Serhiy Hrabsky’s situation may not be bad, When there was a shortage of Soviet equipment. – Who is the biggest supplier of arms to Ukraine? Russia – The expert mentions and draws attention to the weapons captured from the Russians. Forbes magazine estimates that more equipment seized from the Russians is currently in Ukraine than provided by its most important Western allies. By the end of September, the Ukrainians had captured about 400 Russian tanks and about 700 infantry fighting vehicles. However, most of them are old models.

Author: Roman Goncharenko

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