- Ukraine is well supplied with artillery munitions taken as Russia retreated, the Wall Street Journal said.
- Ukrainian forces had faced severe ammunition shortages early in the war.
- As much of the Ukrainian arsenal is of Soviet or Russian manufacture, sources of resupply are limited.
Ammunition left behind by fleeing Russian troops is filling Ukraine’s depleted reserves and fueling its counteroffensive, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Russia’s hasty withdrawal from the Kharkiv region in early September involved troops dropping equipment including tanks, other armored vehicles and howitzers. They also left behind huge amounts of Soviet-caliber artillery shells, the newspaper reported.
“The Russians no longer have a firepower advantage,” an unnamed artillery officer told the newspaper. “We destroyed all their artillery units before launching the offensive, and then we started advancing so fast that they didn’t even have time to refuel and load their tanks. fled and left everything behind.”
The report said the equipment was turned towards Russian forces as Ukraine advances past the recently recaptured town of Lyman in the Donbass region.
The recapture of Lyman offers strategic advantages, as the city served as a supply and logistics hub for Russian operations in the region.
Ukraine had previously struggled to match Russia in terms of firepower. Much of Ukraine’s military arsenal consists of Russian or Soviet equipment, which makes it difficult to replenish its stock.
In March, Western officials reported that Ukrainian troops in Mariupol were resupplying by taking ammunition from Russian soldiers.
In June, Vitaliy Kim, governor of the southern Mykolaiv region, said, “We’re out of ammunition,” Voice of America reported.
The United States has exhausted its own reserves of certain ammunition while supplying Ukraine. An unnamed defense official told the Journal in late August that 155mm ammunition levels were getting “uncomfortably low”.
But that has started to change since Ukraine’s lightning-fast counteroffensive in September. As his forces recaptured huge swathes of territory in the northeast region of Kharkiv, the Russians dropped their weapons and abandoned their tanks.
A Ukrainian soldier, identified only as Birdie, told the Telegraph that during this effort Russian troops “left a huge amount of vehicles and ammunition”, adding: “We couldn’t transfer or evacuate everything to our rear”.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Twitter account mocked the Russians by describing them as “the largest supplier of military equipment to the Ukrainian army”.
—Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 11, 2022
Oryx, a project to document and track the use and losses of military equipment, counted 442 Russian tanks captured by Ukrainians throughout the war. The Journal report, citing Oryx, said 320 tanks had been supplied to Ukraine from elsewhere.
Armored fighting vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles that Ukraine captured from Russia also outnumbered foreign donations, according to Oryx.