“When you talk to leaders outside Europe and the alliance at the moment then you will realise their perception of the [Ukraine] war is completely different from ours. They might say: ‘Yes, we are not OK with a country invading another.’ But and then comes the big but: ‘It is your sanctions that drive up food prices, energy prices and have a devastating effect on our population.’”
From the Guardian liveblog:
Ukraine is running out of shells for the majority of its artillery in part because of an eight-year-long clandestine Russian campaign of bullying and sabotage, according to Ukrainian experts.
Russia is firing more than 60,000 shells per day, which is 10 times more than the Ukrainians, according to Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Maylar. Most of Ukraine’s artillery relies on the same 122mm- and 152mm-calibre rounds that Russia uses, but outside of Russia very little supply exists, the Washington Post reports.
Ukraine’s shortage of shells is in large part because Russia spent years targeting Ukrainian and other eastern European ammunition storage facilities and suppliers before launching its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the paper reports.
A “shadow war” is taking place for the limited number of 152mm shells on the global market, the paper said. According to an arms broker, officials in an eastern European country were unable to purchase artillery rounds because Russians had warned them that they would “kill them if they sold anything to the Ukrainians”.
Countries that still have stocks of 152mm rounds are largely ex-Soviet nations and some African and Middle Eastern countries, many of which are hesitant to sell to Ukraine because of their close ties with Russia.
In some cases, Ukraine thought it had made a deal to buy these shells but then a Russian-backed buyer would swoop in at the last minute and aggressive outbid, the arms broker said.
Malyar told the paper that “the Russians are working very hard to ensure that we can’t sign contracts for this — and then if we sign a contract, to prevent us from getting the shells delivered here”.
According to military analysts, Russia has long known that in a drawn-out war of attrition against Ukraine, Kyiv would risk running out of ammunition. A former Ukrainian defence minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, said there were “constant discussions that we need to produce the ammunition ourselves”.
Ukrainian officials suspect Russian and separatist saboteurs as well as Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, were engaged in a campaign across Europe and inside Ukraine to destroy arms depots and suppress the supply of munitions to Ukraine, the paper reports.