Lack of ammunition hinders Ukraine's defence

 A Ukrainian marine of 35th brigade fires by automatic grenade launcher AGS-17 towards Russian positions on the outskirts of Avdiivka, Ukraine, on June 19, 2023.
A Ukrainian marine of 35th brigade fires by automatic grenade launcher AGS-17 towards Russian positions on the outskirts of Avdiivka, Ukraine, on June 19, 2023. Copyright Evgeniy Maloletka/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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A lack of ammunition is posing a serious threat to Ukraine's control over its 1,000-kilometre frontline, which is facing relentless assaults from Russian artillery putting defensive positions in jeopardy.

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In the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrainian soldiers are using their remaining ammunition sparingly to resist Russian offensives.

"If there's no real target, I don't shoot. That way, I'll still have ammunition tomorrow," artillery commander Olexander said. 

The Ukrainian army chief announced on Saturday that he was pulling troops from the city of Avdiivka to preserve soldiers' lives. According to Ukraine's 3rd Brigade, Russian warplanes had dropped about 60 bombs a day on the area as well as launching assaults with armor and infantry. 

On the same day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Western allies from the annual Munich Security Conference to continue supplying the country with weapons, warning that an "artificial deficit" of weapons was giving Moscow breathing space. 

The war-torn country has been dealing with a critical shortage of ammunition since the beginning of the year with a Bloomberg report highlighting last month that Ukrainian forces have just 2,000 shells to fire every day along the entire frontline, down from 7,000 over the summer.

The dwindling stock of Western-supplied long-range artillery is particularly concerning, as it prevents Ukrainian forces from targeting significant assets deep within Russian territory, where heavy equipment and personnel are concentrated.

Reports from the frontline indicate some artillery units operating at only 10 percent of their required supply. In an effort to conserve shells, military leaders have instructed units to target only specific objectives. However, ground commanders argue that this strategy is insufficient to counter their better-equipped adversaries. 

Days before Avdiivka fell, the White House had said such a development would be down "in very large part" on the fact that Ukrainian forces are running out of artillery ammunition.

The lack of financial aid from the US is worrying the Ukrainian military in the field. A package of aid worth some €55 billion has been held up by Congress for weeks.

"This money is supposed to be allocated to the production of explosives by NATO, which will then be delivered to us. But unfortunately, things are going very slowly. And we are paying for this slowness and decrease in aid with the lives of our soldiers," a Ukrainian brigadier said.

There are mounting concerns that without urgent military aid, the fall of Avdiivka could be replicated in other areas along the front line.

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