Ukrainian President, Volodimir Zelenskyaffirmed this Tuesday that the situation is “extremely difficult” in the east of the countrywhere Russian troops advanced in recent weeks.
“The situation on the front line, and in particular in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, remains extremely difficult. It’s literally a meter by meter battle”, Zelensky declared in his evening address.
In that sense, Ukraine’s Western allies pledged on Tuesday in Brussels to keep the huge amounts of ammunition and weapons that Ukraine needs, while fighting for the city of Bakhmut raged.
The president has moderated the tone of his demands for fighter planes, after getting from the allies promises of tanks, air defense and missiles.
Gathered at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Ukraine’s allies focused on securing the flow of ammunition and armored they need to face the Russian offensive on the ground.
Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikovsaid the priorities for his country were to improve air defense, bolster tank supplies and ensure ammunition stocks.
Leaving the meeting, US General Mark Milley said that Russia has already lost that war. “Russia has lost, it has lost strategically, operationally and tactically, and it is paying a huge price,” he said.
But as long as hostilities continue, “the international community will continue to support Ukraine with the equipment and capabilities it needs,” he added.
Ukraine’s Western allies, led by the United States, have already supplied tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons to contribute to the defense of that country.
Now, days before a year has elapsed since the start of the war, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) maintains that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be initiating a new, broader offensive in eastern Ukraine.
“Russia is introducing new troops on the battlefield. Many of these troops are poorly trained and poorly equipped, so their casualty rate has been really high,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
The US leader said Ukraine was seeking to turn the tide of the conflict to gain momentum, and hoped Ukrainian forces would launch their own counteroffensive in the spring.
A “meat grinder”
On the ground in eastern Ukraine, a team from the news agency AFP he heard heavy artillery fire towards the Russian lines around the town of Bahkmut, the target of a huge Russian offensive. The city is not considered strategic but it became a symbol of the ukrainian resistance in this conflict.
The head of the Russian Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, admitted that Bakhmut “will not be taken tomorrow, because there is strong resistance and shelling. It’s a working meat grinder.”
On Monday, the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, admitted that Ukraine is using an amount of munitions well in excess of NATO’s capacity to produce itand warned that it is necessary to strengthen contracts with arms industries.
According to the German press, these contracts would allow the delivery of 300,000 ammunition to Ukraine from July.
For the European NATO allies, the flow of ammunition for the weapons supplied to the Ukrainians became a problematic priority.
For Stoltenberg, this is a war of attrition and a logistic battle”.
In particular, the Ukrainians urgently need ammunition of 155 millimetersof which they use several thousand daily.
The German Minister of Defence, Boris Pistoriusannounced that the German industry was preparing to strengthen a specific ammunition production line for Guepard anti-aircraft defense systems.
“The contracts have already been signed with the manufacturers,” he said. According to the German press, these contracts would allow the delivery of 300,000 munitions to Ukraine starting in July.
The urgency of finding mechanisms to increase ammunition production capacity left the discussion momentarily sensitive issue of fighter planes ordered by Ukraine.
A senior US official said sending planes “is not something we’re talking about at that table right now.”
on your side, Slovakia it has said it is willing to discuss sending ex-Soviet MIG-29 jets to help replace losses from Ukraine’s current stocks.
For the Minister of Defense of Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren, the discussion “will take time”. Ukraine has asked the Netherlands to hand over US F-16 jets.
On Monday, Stoltenberg insisted that “the issue of planes is not the most pressing issue right now, but it is an ongoing discussion.”
For the head of NATO“the urgent need now is to fulfill what has already been promised”.
(With information from AFP)
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