Delays in Western weapon deliveries could leave defenders outgunned in early 2024, military analyst says

Western arms delays could make early 2024 toughest period for Ukrainian forces, defense expert warns
Western arms delays could make early 2024 toughest period for Ukrainian forces, defense expert warns

The first half of 2024 will be the most difficult for the Ukrainian Armed Forces due to shortfalls in promised supplies of weapons and ammunition from the West, says Serhiy Zgurets, director of Defense Express, an information and consulting company.

Several Western politicians have recently said that Ukraine will not receive the full amount of weapons it has been promised and needs. In particular, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius admitted that the European Union would not be able to provide Ukraine with 1 million artillery rounds by March 2024, as promised.

Read also: No one country can produce enough ammunition for current intensity of warfare

The warning was echoed by Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who said a little more than 300,000 shells have been delivered so far.

Finally, Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser to the President of the United States, admitted that without a new aid package for Ukraine being approved by the U.S. Congress, U.S. capabilities to aid Ukraine are diminishing with each passing week.

Read also: Ukrainian MP reveals global ammunition crisis, impossibility of quick fixes

"It’s already having an effect on our ability to give the Ukraine everything that it needs and that effect will only compound over time," Sullivan said.

NV asked Serhiy Zgurets, director of Defense Express, an information and consulting company, to comment on what all this means for the frontline and how the situation will unfold in the future.

"Ammunition is indeed the most important component that determines the effectiveness of combat operations in today's combat environment, both in offense and defense," Zgurets told NV.

"When we talk about a certain amount of ammunition we use, we are talking about a figure of 3,000 to 8,000 rounds per day, which actually means that we need at least 300,000 rounds of ammunition per month, if we talk about average needs. And the needs that would correspond to the real capabilities of the artillery are about 500,000 rounds of ammunition per month. It sounds fantastic because these figures rest on the ability of our partners to supply Ukraine with such volumes of ammunition."

The main problem is the ability of European and U.S. companies to supply Ukraine with the appropriate amount of ammunition, Zgurets believes.

“Today, the Europeans have supplied us with 300,000 shells under the contract, and the Americans have supplied about 2 million rounds of ammunition since the start of hostilities,” he said.

“The most difficult period of the next year is approaching. At the moment, we have filled the gaps with reduced supplies with cluster munitions from the United States. The total stocks there are about 3 million, so there is a certain reserve because European countries and the United States will not use this ammunition due to their own restrictions. We can use them.”

But with the production of new ammunition, the situation is such that the United States will only reach the rate of 100,000 per month in 2025, the analyst warns.

Read also: NATO wants to increase ammunition production due to rising prices and high demand

“Companies in European countries are currently producing about 300,000 per year, and they want to double that,” Zgurets said.

“So, in fact, only in 2025 will Europeans and Americans jointly reach the figures that the Russian Federation already has, within the range of 1.5-2 million rounds of ammunition produced by the Russian Federation per year. That is, in fact, we can say that the European and U.S. industries are not keeping up with the needs. This gap is being closed by cluster munitions. Next year, in particular the first half of the year, will be the most difficult, and then everything will depend on how much the Europeans and Americans can increase their volumes. And, one way or another, we will reach parity with Russia in terms of ammunition stocks only by the end of next year, at best.”

But the situation is different in each section of the frontline, the military expert noted.

“And it is not just the amount of ammunition that is decisive,” he said.

“The effectiveness of the guns themselves, the work to destroy the enemy's guns and ammunition stockpiles is crucial. In other words, in any case, we are saying that indeed, there may be a lack of ammunition, but the effectiveness of their use and the effectiveness of combat operations will depend on how well each side solves this set of problems. From destroying enemy stockpiles, guns, and their own approaches to concentrating guns in certain areas. This is a task for specific military groups in specific areas."

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine