ERR in Ukraine: More Western ammo, tech needed ahead of counter-offensive
Ukrainian forces require more Western-made and supplied equipment and ammunition in order to go ahead with the planned counter-offensive in the southeast of that country, ERR news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reports.
For the meantime at least, they are having to make do with what they have.
ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev and camera operator Kristjan Svirgsden have been delivering regular reportages from on the ground in Donbas, with this week's focus being on artillery and the soldiers engaged in this.
The latest of these reports, from Thursday of this week, recounts that the Ukrainian military fired had 60 rockets in a row from its BM-21 Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (pictured).
While this sounds a lot, it also means little down time for soldiers and a military needing to conserve.
On that very same day, Russian forces engaged in a serious effort to rupture Ukrainian defensive lines near the village of Pisky, near Donetsk, one of the hottest zones after nearby Bakhmut.
For this reason, there was no skimping on ammunition on the Ukrainian side that time.
One Ukrainian fighter, Dnestr, told ERR that: "So far as I know, the new missiles are coming from Romania."
Romania is a NATO and EU state, and borders with Ukraine.
"A factory was opened there which produces completely new missiles especially for Ukraine. Just by the by, the longer the ammunition is kicking around unused, the more its quality decreases. This, in turn, affects firing accuracy. We would like to get more of these Romanian missiles, but you must understand that the entire front is 1,200km long. As a result, ammunition is mainly being prioritized to those brigades who are on the most difficult section of the front."
One of the younger Grad operators, Vladislav, only joined his brothers in arms a few months ago. While some of his comrades had also come to Estonia for training, he had had to remain in Ukraine.
Vladislav said: "We were sent to the training center, whence all my friends were sent to Estonia for training."
"But I had to stay in Ukraine, because there was some issue with my documents at the military commissariat. Thanks to their mistake, I had to undergo training in Ukraine instead. This was my fifth combat mission here, so you could say that I had already acquired the overall skills. Training with this particular weapon took a month, and now I can operate it," he went on.
Another solider, Myhhailo, described the current situation in Pisky. "They keep trying to attack in this direction, but with no success. We can head them off. They launched an assault only yesterday, though without any results.
In any case, the men are getting sick of the constant questions from the media – whose members are not taking part in the fighting themselves, though seem fairly dead set on telegraphing its details to the other side - about the upcoming counter-offensive, when it will take place and what nature it will take.
In any case the Ukrainian front-line troops are unlikely to be any the wiser – they are mostly focused on awaiting new orders, newer and better equipment and certainly more ammunition.
Ukrainian soldiers are already tired of journalists' questions about the upcoming counteroffensive. They are just waiting for orders, newer equipment and more ammunition.
Pokrov, an officer, said: "For a start, the new tech resources are not exhausted," referring to the Russian side
"Second, they have much better targeting systems. They use GPS, while we work as we already had been doing," Pokrov went on.
As for the ammunition they have, this is shoddy, he said.
"The ammunition was made in the Soviet Union and in the Warsaw Pact countries. We are currently looking for ammunition worldwide, but this is ultimately the situation."
The Grad is a Soviet-made system too.
All the artillerymen have a similar complaint, not just those using Grad.
"The quality depends on the age of the ammunition in question, and the storage conditions it was kept in. For example, shells arriving from abroad can be 30 to 35 years old. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't," he went on.
There is little time for chatting on the front line, in the meantime - there is work to be done, including a quick change of position.
"Positions have to be changed often. You can't stay in the one place for a lengthy period of time, otherwise we might get struck. Once a job is done, we change positions. /.../ About three or four times a day, but sometimes you have to change positions after each and every target, " Myhhailo said.
The original AK slot is here.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'