progress of Ukrainian counter-offensive ‘smooth’, says US Chief of Staff

New meeting of allies to coordinate arms and ammunition deliveries to Ukraine

Representatives of more than 40 countries and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meet on Thursday at the US base in Ramstein for the fifth meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, hosted by the Minister of Defense American, Lloyd Austin. In particular, they should address the challenges that the conflict poses in terms of arms production.

“The consumption of ammunition is very important in this war in Ukraine”, explained the American chief of staff, general Mark Milley, to the journalists who accompany him. The objective is “to try to determine the needs, the demands and then to compare this to the supply, whether it is the stocks of the countries or what can be produced by the industry” defence, he added on the plane bringing him from Washington.

Artillery is decisive in the conflict. Particularly greedy in projectiles of all kinds, the Ukrainian and Russian armies engage in a war of attrition of ammunition, the stocks of which are crucial. Ukraine has been carrying out a counter-offensive in the south of its territory since last week, and President Zelensky has repeatedly stated that he wants to resume “all regions under Russian occupation”including Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine has exhausted all of its Russian-made weaponry, and its defense is now totally dependent on Western military aid. For its part, Russia has turned to North Korea to buy large quantities of rockets and artillery shells, according to Washington.

The United States, the main supplier of military aid to Ukraine, has already promised to provide 13.5 billion dollars worth of various armaments, in particular Javelin anti-tank missiles, artillery pieces and shells compatible with NATO artillery systems.

Washington also gave the Ukrainian forces Himars precision artillery systems and their GPS-guided rockets called GMLRS (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System), with a range of more than 80 kilometers, which are widely used in the south and east of the country. kyiv would like longer-range weapons of the ATACMS type (Army Tactical Missile System, tactical ballistic missile intended for the M270 MLRS multiple rocket launcher and the M142 Himars system), which can strike at 300 kilometers, but the United States refuses, fearing that these missiles are aimed at targets on Russian territory, which could lead to a widening of the conflict. “Current US policy is that we do not send ATACMS”recalled General Milley. “We had this conversation several times with my counterpart and other Ukrainian officials. »

“We are sending Himars (…) with GMLRS, and these systems have proven to be very, very effective against Russian forces”he added. “We believe that the range of the Himars is sufficient to meet the needs of the Ukrainians in their current fight. »

The United States alone provides three quarters of the shells to NATO standards, underlined the spokesman for the American staff, Colonel Dave Butler. “More than ten countries in the contact group provide 155 millimeter caliber artillery pieces, and fifteen countries donate 155 millimeter ammunition”he pointed out.

All arms donations to Ukraine are calculated so as not to weaken the military capabilities of the donor countries, but ammunition stocks must be able to be replenished regularly, hence the need to revitalize the production of the defense industry, explained the spokesperson. “U.S. ammunition supplies to Ukraine are not tied specifically to the annual production capabilities of a given armament by the U.S. defense industry, but that production capability is one of the factors considered”he concluded.

Read also: “In Ukraine as elsewhere, it is the combination of weapons and effects that makes the difference”

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