Ukraine says Western weapons make a difference, but more is needed

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, speaks to Reuters during an interview, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

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KYIV, July 8 (Reuters) – Western supplies of high-precision weapons are helping Ukraine slow the Russian invasion, but arms volumes are not enough and soldiers need time to adapt to their use, a senior Ukrainian security official said on Friday. .

Kyiv said late last month that it had received US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and has since praised them for their battlefield successes, such as destroying of Russian warehouses and command posts, as well as the withdrawal of Russian troops from the strategic island of Snake in the Black Sea.

“When they arrived, the Russian war machine could instantly feel its effect,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, told Reuters in an interview in Kyiv. “What they (the Russians) wanted to do in three days, now they do it in two or a week and a half.”

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But receiving more Western military aid is vital for Ukraine as it prepares for a Russian assault on the eastern Donetsk region.

Last week, Moscow used its overwhelming numerical superiority in artillery to claim control of the neighboring Lugansk region.

The Battle of Lugansk, which some commanders have compared to the slow, fierce fighting of World War I, laid bare Kyiv’s lack of ammunition for Soviet-era artillery, military analysts say, increasing the importance Western supplies.

“The problem now is that we have a lot of Soviet weapons left, which use 122 mm and 152 mm caliber shells. There are not many (these shells) in the world, so we are going through a transition to NATO’s 155mm caliber,” Danilov said. .

Speaking in his heavily guarded office in Kyiv, Danilov, who himself hails from the Lugansk region, said Russia may have been responsible for attacks on Soviet-era ammunition depots that took place in Ukraine in the years leading up to the February 24 invasion.

“There have been situations where our depots have been destroyed. Of course, it could have been Russia. We are the number one target for them,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made capturing Donbass, which includes the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, a key war objective.

Asked if the West might try to pressure Ukraine into agreeing to a ceasefire with Russia if Moscow managed to capture the rest of Donbass, Danilov said he hoped the West would stay. united behind Kyiv.

“If there is a rift in unity, a different situation may arise,” he said, adding that in any case any agreement with Moscow should have the support of the Ukrainian people.

Despite the praise for Western military aid, he acknowledged that soldiers needed time to learn how to use weapons.

“It’s a process – you can’t just pick up a gun and figure out how to use it in half an hour.”

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Additional reporting by Stefaniia Bern and Natalie Thomas; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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