Ukrainian troops in the east of the country are fighting the invaders with heavy artillery given to them by America. Images from the Donetsk region, which together with Luhansk makes up the Donbas, where President Putin has focused his war effort after failing to seize Kyiv, show soldiers on top of the newly delivered M109 self-propelled howitzers, which use the 155mm artillery calibre. Samuel Cranny-Evans, a military analyst at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said that the calibre was easier for Nato to support than the old Soviet-era 152mm calibre guns; ammunition for which was running low in the Ukrainian camp.
He said that the impact of the new weaponry would depend upon the numbers they could field. “If they don’t have very many of them, it may not impact the war at all. Ukraine needs a lot of artillery, and soon, to reverse the tide of casualties that they are taking,” he said.
Oleksii Reznikov, the defence minister, announced last month that Ukraine had received a shipment of M109 howitzers from the US but did not specify how many. Other American pieces reaching the front lines include M777 howitzers, along with FH70 howitzers given by the UK and Caesar self-propelled howitzers from France.
Justin Crump, of Sibylline, an intelligence and geopolitical risk company, said that artillery remained “crucial” to the conflict. “Ukraine is publicly seeking 1,000 guns and 300 rocket systems, on top of 500 tanks and thousands of infantry vehicles, to seek parity with Russia. This is vital to meet the voiced ambition not only to defend but to attack and take back territory lost to the Russians.”
Yesterday Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general, agreed that “Ukraine should have more heavy weapons”. The Nato chief was speaking to journalists in The Hague after meeting the leaders of seven European allies ahead of a summit to co-ordinate arms deliveries to Kyiv.
“They absolutely depend on that to be able to stand up against the brutal Russian invasion,” Stoltenberg added.