Ukraine Update: Kiev Forces Facing Growing Desertion, Significant Losses And Depleting Ammunition

  ukraine troops

Cases of desertion are growing among Ukrainian force, which is suffering significant losses, says report. It is also almost out of ammunition.

Media reports said:

There has been a rise in desertion as morale declines, says an intelligence report seen by The Independent.

Ukraine is now dependent on Western donations of supplies, Ukrainian officials say.

Reports are emerging that the Ukrainian military is experiencing “massive losses,” and cases of desertion are growing, an intelligence report says.

A military report by The Independent has shown that, for every artillery piece Ukraine has, Russia has 20, in the worsening situation in the Donbas.

The report also shows that Russia has 40 times the supply of artillery ammunition. They also have a longer range.

Ukraine’s deputy head of military intelligence Vadym Skibitsky has said that the force is almost “out of ammunition,” the Guardian reports.

Ukrainian Deputy Head of Military Intelligence Skibitsky said in an interview that the violent conflict has exhausted the majority of Ukrainian artillery.

Europe Also Runs Out

He said: “We have almost used up all of our [artillery] ammunition and are now using 155-calibre NATO standard shells. Europe is also delivering lower-caliber shells but as Europe runs out, the amount is getting smaller.”

Skibitsky said that overseas contributions were supplying the battle on the front line, but that Ukraine was still severely under prepared.

“Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us,” Skibitsky said in an interview with the Guardian.

“Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have,” he said, explaining that Ukraine is now dependent on Western donations of supplies.

There is now concern that the Ukrainian military is starting to waver.

Buckled Morale

Up to 200 Ukrainian soldiers are killed every day, an aide to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy told the BBC on Friday, and there are now signs that Ukrainian fighters’ morale is starting to buckle.

The report, says Kim Sengupta of The Independent, describes the spike in deaths as having “a seriously demoralizing effect on Ukrainian forces as well as a very real material effect; cases of desertion are growing every week.”

According to The Washington Post, this number of military deaths suggests that, factoring in the number of wounded, Ukraine could be losing up to 1,000 troops a day, a far higher casualty rate than was seen in the early days of the war.

“The euphoria that accompanied Ukraine’s unforeseen early victories against bumbling Russian troops is fading as Moscow adapts its tactics, recovers its stride and asserts its overwhelming firepower against heavily outgunned Ukrainian forces,” the Post reports.

This news comes as Russian troops make progress in the battle for the eastern town of Severodonetsk.

Reiterating the need for international support, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said Western countries could have the power to change the outcome of the battle there if they donate more arms. 

The U.S., along with its allies, has supplied Ukraine with billions of dollars in aid and weapons.

Russian forces, bolstered by an overwhelming advantage in firepower, have nearly seized control of the key city of Sievierodonetsk, and with it, the entirety of Luhansk Oblast. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military’s shortage of artillery rounds makes it difficult to fight back.

In response to the question “Is time on Ukraine’s side?” Marvin Kalb and Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution wrote Friday that it is unclear whether Ukraine can “continue to blunt relentless Russian attacks” even with “continuing Western military aid.”

Ukraine Will Prevail Over Russia, Says Zelenskiy

Zelenskiy insisted on Saturday that Ukraine would prevail in its war with Russia.

Speaking remotely at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Zelenskiy said it is “on the battlefields in Ukraine that the future rules of this world are being decided.”

Spain’s Plan To Send Leopard Tanks To Ukraine Crumbles Under German Pressure

Germany has blocked Spain’s plan to send dozens of old Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Business Insider reports.

The El Pais newspaper reported earlier this month that the Spanish government had considered sending up to 40 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine. The old German-made tanks were taken from the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

German government sources told Business Insider on Saturday that, under pressure from Berlin, Madrid had to reduce its offer and is now considering sending about ten tanks at most, which need to be repaired. Even this number is under question and no application has been submitted to the federal government for the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

In April, Madrid sent 200 tonnes of munition, military hardware and transport vehicles to Ukraine. At that time, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said that his country was not considering a transfer of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Ukraine Fears A Long War Might Cause West To Lose Interest

Domestic crises and nearly three and a half months have pulled focus from the largest war in Europe since World War II. Now, Kyiv officials are concerned about international “war fatigue.”

An AP report from Kiev said:

Ukraine officials have expressed fears that the specter of “war fatigue” could erode the West’s resolve to help Kiev.

But as the shock of the Feb. 24 invasion subsides, analysts say the Kremlin could exploit a dragged-out, entrenched conflict and possible waning interest among Western powers that might lead to pressuring Ukraine into a settlement.

Zelenskyy already has chafed at Western suggestions he should accept some sort of compromise. Ukraine, he said, would decide its own terms for peace.

“The fatigue is growing, people want some kind of outcome (that is beneficial) for themselves, and we want (another) outcome for ourselves,” he said.

An Italian peace proposal was dismissed, and French President Emmanuel Macron was met with an angry backlash after he was quoted as saying that world powers should not “humiliate Russia, so when the fighting stops, we can build a way out together via diplomatic paths.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said such talk “can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.”

Even a remark by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Ukraine should consider territorial concessions drew a retort from Zelenskyy.

Ukraine’s Monthly War Cost $5 Billion

Every month of the war is costing Ukraine $5 billion, said Volodymyr Fesenko, political analyst with the Penta Center think tank, and that “makes Kyiv dependent on the consolidated position of the Western countries.”

Ukraine will need even more advanced weaponry to secure victory, along with Western determination to keep up the economic pain on Russia to weaken Moscow.

“It is obvious that Russia is determined to wear down the West and is now building its strategy on the assumption that Western countries will get tired and gradually begin to change their militant rhetoric to a more accommodating one,” Fesenko said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Nigel Gould-Davies, senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies said while he does not see a significant erosion in the “emphatic support for Ukraine,” “there are hints of different tensions over what the West’s goals should be. Those have not yet been clearly defined.”

Europe’s Economic Toll On Ordinary People

Europe’s domestic concerns are nudging their way into the discourse, especially as energy prices and raw materials shortages start to take an economic toll on ordinary people who are facing higher electricity bills, fuel costs and grocery prices.

Europe’s Unity Declining

“Unity in Europe is declining a bit,’’ said Matteo Villa, an analyst with the ISPI think tank in Milan. “There is this kind of fatigue setting in among member states on finding new ways to sanction Russia, and clearly within the EU, there are some countries that are less and less willing to go on with sanctions.’’

Wary of the economic impact of further energy sanctions, the European Commission has signaled it would not rush to propose fresh restrictive measures targeting Russian gas. EU lawmakers are also appealing for financial aid for citizens hit by heating and fuel price hikes to ensure that public support for Ukraine does not wane.

Support Is Not Unlimited

Italy’s right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, told foreign journalists this week that Italians are ready to make sacrifices, and that his League supports the sanctions against Russia.

But he indicated that backing is not unlimited, amid signs the trade balance under sanctions has shifted in Moscow’s favor, hurting small business owners in northern Italy who are part of his base.

“Italians are very available to make personal economic sacrifices to support Ukraine’s defense and arrive at a cease-fire,’’ Salvini said.

It Will Be A Disaster For Italy

“What I would not like is to find us back here in September, after three months with the conflict still ongoing. If that is the case, it will be a disaster for Italy. Beyond the deaths, and saving lives, which is the priority, economically, for Italy, if the war goes on, it will be a disaster,” he said.

Ukraine’s Top Officials Slam Biden

U.S. President Biden ruffled the feathers of top Ukrainian officials after his comments to Democrat fundraisers in Los Angeles, California, on Friday, in which the U.S. President said Ukrainian leadership allegedly decided not to listen to the U.S.’s warnings prior to the start of Russia’s special military operation.

Sergei Nikiforov, who serves as the spokesperson for Ukrainian President Zelensky, has blasted U.S. President Biden over recent remarks the U.S. commander-in-chief made that suggested Ukrainian officials “did not want to hear” about U.S. intel suggesting the start of Russia special military operation.

According to a Ukrainian media reports on Saturday, Zelensky held more trust in his own intelligence.

“Therefore, the phrase ‘did not want to hear’ probably needs clarification,” Nikiforov said, referring to Biden’s comments. “In addition, if you remember, the president of Ukraine called on partners to introduce a package of preventive sanctions in order to encourage Russia to withdraw its troops and deescalate the situation.”

Nikiforov recalled that during the time before February 24, Zelensky had “three or four” telephone conversations with Biden, during which the presidents exchanged thoughts and assessments of the situation in detail.

Putin Shrugs Off Sanctions, Saying It’s Impossible To Fence Off A Country Like Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin took a bullish tone on Thursday as he discussed the West’s efforts to isolate Russia’s economy amid the Ukraine war, suggesting that the countries refusing to do business with Moscow are only hurting themselves.

“Our economy will be open — whoever is not interested will be robbing themselves,” Putin said during a meeting with young Russian entrepreneurs, per the New York Times. “It is impossible to fence off a country like Russia, and we are not planning to put up a fence like that around us ourselves.”

Economists in Europe and the U.S. largely expect Russia to plunge into a deep recession in the second quarter as the exodus of major companies and slowdown in trade slams activity.

The Kremlin is acting like it is not feeling the heat. Despite shouldering more sanctions than any other country, the Russian government is still raking in billions of dollars in energy exports every month. The West’s efforts to kneecap the Russian energy sector were somewhat half-baked, as the UK and Europe still rely heavily on the country’s natural gas. The Kremlin continues to sell discounted oil and gas to India and China as well, further bolstering the government’s energy revenue and maintaining a key source of funding for its war in Ukraine.

Obama Warns The War Is Far From Over And The Costs Will Continue To Mount

Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday cautioned that the war in Ukraine will not end anytime soon and warned it will have far-reaching consequences.

“Make no mistake, this war is far from over. The costs will continue to mount,” Obama said during a speech at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday, adding that the trajectory of the war remains unpredictable.

Obama’s warning underscores the current status of the war, which has become a slow-moving, scorched-earth, and bloody campaign in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

U.S. Infinitely More Polarized Today Than During Vietnam War, Says Kissinger

Ex-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recently offered up his vision of the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. At the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, he suggested that it was time for Kiev to think about a diplomatic settlement of the conflict, even if that means territorial concessions.

Henry Kissinger, a geopolitics colossus who turned 99 on May 27, has claimed that the U.S. is “infinitely” more divided today than at the time of the Vietnam War.

The ex-U.S. Secretary of State to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford offered his vision of the current state of U.S. internal politics, the Ukraine crisis and U.S. stand-off with China in an exclusive interview for The Sunday Times.

He deplored the partisan antipathy that has surged in the U.S. over the past several decades.

The American National Election Studies surveys and polls have increasingly shown that Democrats and Republicans view members of the other party more as enemies than simply as political opponents.

According to Kissinger, in the early 1970s, there was “still a possibility of bipartisanship” in the U.S., before the “hostility” firmly took root.

“The national interest was a meaningful term, it was not in itself a subject of debate. That has ended. Every administration now faces the unremitting hostility of the opposition and in a way that is built on different premises … The unstated but very real debate in America right now is about whether the basic values of America have been valid,” underscored Kissinger, a Republican since the 1950s.

The “values” in question refer to the sacrosanct status of the American Constitution and the ‘primacy of individual liberty and equality before the law,’ points out the outlet.

Kissinger offered a dire warning of what such “unbridgeable divisions” are fraught with. “Either the society collapses and is no longer capable of carrying out its missions under either leadership, or it transcends them.”

EU Sanctions Hamper Deliveries From Russia, May Lead To Famine In Africa, Says Senegal

Europe’s anti-Russian sanctions hamper African businessmen’s grain and fertilizer purchases from Russia and may therefore trigger famine on the continent, Senegalese President Macky Sall has told France-24.

“As far as access to Russian products is concerned, African Union members are facing problems caused by the SWIFT-related sanctions. As our banks mostly have ties with European banks, usual payment procedures are no longer available to them,” the president, who also chairs the African Union, said in an interview aired on Thursday. “Russia continues to trade with other countries, such as China and even the USA. It is delivering gas to Europe. But we cannot [trade with Russia] because of the payment system.”

Sanctions imposed on a number of Russian grain and fertilizer producers are another problem that the continent is facing, the Senegalese leader continued.

“On the one hand, we have a military conflict that led to this situation, on the other – the consequences of sanctions. We will need to find a way to solve those problems jointly with European partners, in order to normalize the market and ensure supplies of grain, but, most importantly, of fertilizers,” he added.

“The reality is that if we do not get fertilizers before the rainy season begins in the majority of African countries, there will be no harvest. We are already experiencing difficulties with wheat supplies, and if local farmers are unable to grow other crops as well, a very serious famine may ensue, with the potential of destabilizing the continent,” the president said.

Speaking about his talks with Russian President Putin in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, Sall said he had delivered the African Union’s three main requests to the Russian leader, notably to unblock grain supplies via Ukrainian ports, resume grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and cease hostilities in Ukraine.

The Senegalese leader arrived to Paris on Thursday to participate in a ministerial conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.


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