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Ukraine, having exhausted Soviet-era weapons, is dependent on allied weapons

#Ukraine #exhausted #Sovietera #weapons #dependent #allied #weapons

Ukraine has used up its Soviet and Russian-designed weaponry and is now completely dependent on allies to defend against the Russian invasion, US military sources say.

As part of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian army and its defense industry were built around standard Soviet and Russian equipment, small arms, tanks, howitzers and other weapons not interchangeable with those of its western neighbors.

More than three months into the conflict sparked when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, that equipment was consumed or destroyed in combat, US sources said.

Now Kiev’s armed forces are using or learning to use weapons from the United States and European NATO allies.

– Steady stream –

At the start of the war, the West was reluctant to ship much to Kyiv, fearing that doing so would create a conflict between NATO and Russia.

They also feared that their advanced weapons technology would fall into Russian hands.

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

The United States also conducted efforts to search other former Soviet Union countries for ammunition, parts, and additional supplies that would meet Ukraine’s needs.

But that is now all used up or destroyed.

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

This means that Ukrainian armed forces have to switch to often unfamiliar weapons built to Western specifications.

The United States and NATO partners are shedding past concerns about escalating the conflict or Russia’s procurement of sensitive technology, sending Ukraine heavy weapons such as howitzers and Himars rocket artillery – the latter offering greater range and accuracy than the Russians.

Under the umbrella of the 40-member Contact Group for Ukraine, allied defense chiefs are coordinating their assistance to ensure Kiev’s forces receive a steady flow of ammunition, spare parts and weapons, another US military official said.

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

The pace also limits the risk of stockpiled weapons being destroyed by shelling in Ukraine.

The United States is therefore sending its weapons in stages.

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

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

“We’re trying to maintain a steady flow,” the second US official said.

– Push for longer range weapons –

Kyiv has repeatedly asked about the longer-range Himars precision missile systems, but Washington only agreed when it felt Ukraine was ready.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said on Wednesday that while four of the Himars systems were being prepared for Ukraine, the training focused on building one train at a time to operate them, a process spanning several weeks that theirs delivery may be delayed.

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

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

However, according to a US official, the United States is unwilling to send its Gray Eagle tactical drones to Ukraine for fear they could be used to strike deep within Russia, a move that could risk throwing Washington into a direct one to go into conflict with Moscow.

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