Ukraine still relies heavily on Russian-made weapons and will have to look to other countries outside of NATO to get enough Soviet-era arms and ammunition to continue its fight against Moscow, according to a new report. report.
Eastern European NATO countries have already handed over most of their Soviet-made spare systems to Ukraine, but there is an untapped supply of Russian-made weapons around the world, including in countries that have publicly supported Kyiv, according to the report by the Foundation for said the Defense of Democracies think tank.
The United States and other Western countries should help Ukraine gain access to these Soviet-made weapons, including artillery shells, air defense systems and armored vehicles, the think tank said.
“While Washington has scoured stockpiles of NATO allies and the Pentagon has explored other potential options, a comprehensive search focused on non-NATO nations reveals a robust supply of Soviet- and Russian-made weapons. untapped weapons (and their associated spares and ammunition) that Washington could help Kyiv acquire quickly,” the report said.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies presents itself as a non-partisan, non-profit research institute focused on national security. He tends to support a hawkish foreign policy and has been a strong critic of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The think tank’s report identified more than 6,300 relevant weapons systems from non-NATO countries that Ukraine used or employed before the February 24 Russian invasion, including Mi-17 helicopters, tanks T-80 and BM-14 artillery pieces.
The weapons are in 23 countries, including South Korea, Colombia, Argentina and Kenya.
The countries listed by the report as possible arms donors met at least one of the following criteria: voted in favor of a United Nations resolution calling for Russian withdrawal from Ukraine, voted to suspend Russia from the Council UN Human Rights Officer or attended a meeting. of a U.S.-led Ukrainian Defense Contact Group.
The United States and its European allies could consider offering future arms sales or exchanges with countries that supply Russian-made weapons to Ukraine, other diplomatic or economic incentives, or simply buying the Soviet-standard systems, the think tank said. Some countries might prefer to keep their aid to Ukraine “out of the spotlight”, the report says.
“Some countries will say no, some of them may play hard to get, some of them may charge too high a price but, my God, we have to try,” said Bradley Bowman, one of the report’s authors. and former national security adviser to members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees.
“Time is running out and the stakes are incredibly high,” said Bowman, now senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Ukraine has warned it faces an ammunition shortage for its Soviet-standard artillery and remains underarmed by Russian forces, which have launched relentless shelling during an offensive in the east. Additionally, Ukraine’s ability to repair and maintain its military equipment has likely been compromised due to Russian missile attacks targeting production sites, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
In another setback for Ukraine, Russia took control of the eastern city of Lysychansk in recent days, giving Moscow effective control of Luhansk province.
The White House National Security Council and State Department did not respond to requests for comment.
An administration official said the United States has approached countries inside and outside NATO to supply Ukraine with Soviet-era and Russian-made military hardware, and that non-NATO countries pledged assistance at meetings held to rally military support for Kyiv.
“For many months, the United States has worked with allies and partners to facilitate the transfer of Soviet-era equipment,” the official said. “It’s part of our bilateral conversation with countries around the world.”
American and Western-made weapons delivered to Ukraine, including howitzers, drones and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, are making a difference on the battlefield, experts say. But many of the new systems require training, and Ukraine still relies heavily on its Russian-sourced equipment, said Mark Montgomery, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who served in U.S. European Command and which is now part of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
“More than 80% of their equipment is still from the Soviet era,” he said.