Ukrainian troops finally see impact of western weapons, says Zelenskiy | Ukraine

Ukrainian forces are finally seeing the impact of Western weapons on the front lines of the war with Russia, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

Experts say that while Western equipment has been crucial in pushing back Russian troops, the West must scale up its supplies and even mobilize its own defense industry if it is to avoid a war of attrition that Ukraine could lose.

During his late-night TV speech, Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces were pushing in two directions thanks to Western supplies in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions of Ukraine’s southern front and that they dealt blows to Russia by hitting some of its logistics warehouses.

“Finally, [Ukraine] feels the Western artillery is working very vigorously,” he said, adding that it has “dealed very noticeable blows to warehouses and other points important to [Russia’s] logistics.” He said the Ukrainian attacks “significantly reduced the offensive potential of the Russian army”.

Ukrainian troops have released a video of what they believe was a successful attack on a Russian ammunition warehouse in occupied eastern Ukraine. They have not disclosed the exact location.

“The first type of equipment the West supplied to Ukraine was the one that didn’t have complex supply chain issues,” said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, referring to equipment Ukrainians would not need to on or need spare parts for it.

He said that since the first emergency supplies, Ukraine had asked its allies to provide whatever equipment they were willing to provide. Western governments then delivered “bit by bit”, he said, “what they have available and what they think they can hand over without denying their own troops too much”.

As a result, Ukraine has a wide variety of pieces of equipment that require their own ammunition, spare parts and training processes, Watling said. This has created short-term problems for the Ukrainian command and, along with the logistics of getting the equipment to the Ukraine front, has led to delays and low availability.

“What we’ve seen in recent weeks is an acknowledgment from countries that more systemic support is needed, so we’ve seen countries deliver more systems that they’ve provided before, as well as Himars,” Watling said, referring to US-supplied rocket launchers.

“And this makes a tactical difference, but Ukraine still has to manage multiple supply chains, relatively small fleets with many different systems, and the ammunition available is very limited.”

A US-supplied Himar's multiple launcher system is fired from an undisclosed location in Ukraine
A US-supplied Himars multiple launcher system is fired from an undisclosed location in Ukraine. Photo: Via Pavlo Narozhnyy/Reuters

Watling said NATO’s limited supply of ammunition meant the West would have to mobilize its own defense industry if it wanted to continue supporting the Ukrainian military and avoid a protracted war of attrition.

Serhiy Kuzan, the chairman of Ukraine’s Security and Cooperation Center in Kiev, said Ukraine had noticed a difference at the front from the moment the Himars and howitzers arrived. “It allows us to participate in what is an artillery duel,” he said. “And with the longer-range missiles, we have destroyed more than 20 warehouses of Russian artillery and it has slowed down the Russian offensive. They should be more careful.”

Kuzan said Western supplies had not yet given Ukraine a turning point in the war, as Russia still had more artillery pieces and ammunition than Ukraine. “But now we are trying not only to survive their bombs and missiles, but also to hit their warehouses. Russia uses so much artillery ammunition that they need large supply bases, so this has now become our main target.”

Ivan Sechin, a military expert and former Ukrainian and Soviet military intelligence official, said the blows of Western weapons against Russian bases had worked to demoralize Russian forces and destroy their logistics.

Several videos published by the Ukrainian Armed Forces show Russian soldiers running away from burning bases, which Sechin says has shaken their idea of ​​where they are safe.

“Obviously it’s having an effect because they keep attacking, but not at the same pace as before,” Sechin said. “But with the current stocks, Ukraine can only hold them and does not have the opportunity to launch a significant counter-offensive. The west is still concerned about provoking Russia, but they need to recognize that the Russian military is not as powerful as we once thought. They present their small victories [in the east] like a great victory.”

According to the governor of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, Russian troops have killed at least seven civilians and injured others in the past 24 hours. Kramatorsk, Ukraine’s de facto administrative center in Donetsk, was hit by Russia on Thursday, Agence France-Presse said, killing at least one civilian and injuring several others.

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Although shelling continues in eastern Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Moscow may be taking an “operational pause.”

“Russian forces are likely to limit themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to create conditions for more significant offensive operations and rebuild the combat power needed to attempt those more ambitious ventures,” the institute said.

Russia’s defense ministry appeared to confirm that assessment in a statement Thursday, saying its units were given time to rest to “restore their combat capabilities.”

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