Outgunned Ukraine forces should get enough ammunition within weeks to repel Putin troops, says PM

Outgunned Ukraine forces should get enough ammunition within weeks to repel Putin troops, says PM

Ukraine hopes to have enough ammunition for its outgunned troops to repel Russian attacks starting from April, says Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Kyiv leaders are relying on a Czech-led initiative to source shells for supply.

Ukrainian troops were forced to retreat from the eastern city of Avdiivka in February in their biggest battlefield setback since May 2023 and face shell shortages, with a crucial military aid package from the US blocked for months by Republicans in Congress.

"We hope that this Czech initiative, which Luxembourg joined, will help us, and beginning since April we will have enough ammunition to deter our front line," Mr Shmyhal told a news conference on a visit to Luxembourg.

Prague located 800,000 artillery rounds in third countries earlier this year to supply to Ukraine and says it raised funds from allies to purchase a first batch of 300,000.

A senior Czech official said the first deliveries were expected by June at the latest.

"We also count on the supplying of long-range and middle-range missiles to cut Russian logistics on the occupied territories. It is also crucially important, (just) as the artillery shells are for us," Mr Shmyhal said

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said developing drone warfare is key to gaining an advantage over Vladimir Putin’s large army.

"The development of the use of unmanned systems is my priority," Colonel-General Syrskyi said on Telegram after meeting his deputy, Vadym Sukharevskyi.

"We are looking for asymmetric solutions to gain a qualitative advantage over a numerically superior opponent."

The increased use of drones by both sides has been shifting the conflict away from the battlefield to strikes on each other's military, energy and transport infrastructure.

As the Ukrainian military is outgunned and outmanned on the battlefield, Moscow's forces have been increasing pressure along the entire frontline and making gradual gains.

Putin, who on Sunday was granted another six years in power after winning Russia's presidential election which was widely criticised as a sham, said Moscow forces have an advantage on the Ukraine battlefield and vowed to press on with his military operation.

Western officials say that while Russian forces are advancing on the ground, Putin’s Black Sea Fleet has been pushed back from Crimea.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, as part of his military reforms, ordered in February the creation of a separate branch of Ukraine's armed forces devoted to drones.

Sukharevskyi was put in charge of development of unmanned systems and their use by soldiers.

The aftermath of a Ukrainian drone strike in Russia earlier this month (via REUTERS)
The aftermath of a Ukrainian drone strike in Russia earlier this month (via REUTERS)

Britain has supplied thousands of drones to Ukraine.

Military analysts say drones could potentially give Ukraine a technological edge over Moscow, given its shortages in artillery shells and other more traditional weapons. But Russia's drone industry is also developing rapidly.

As the drones are becoming smaller, more lethal and can travel further, Ukraine has used a barrage of them to attack oil refineries inside Russia in recent months, knocking out an estimated seven per cent of its refining capacity in the first quarter.

Ukraine's air and sea drone attacks on Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, some of which have been successful, have also prompted the Russian defence ministry to vow over the weekend to shield the fleet from future attacks.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began more than two years ago and has since killed tens of thousands on both sides and displaced millions of Ukrainians.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden warned that Putin’s Ukraine war is the “number one threat to democracy right now”.

He also stressed that democratic countries around the world should band together to confront the threat of AI used by malign states to threaten free elections and spread misinformation.

In Seoul, South Korea, for the Summit for Democracy, Mr Dowden announced what he hopes will be a “groundbreaking” new global government compact on countering deceptive use of artificial intelligence by foreign states in elections.

But he stressed: “For me the number one threat to democracy right now is the war that’s going on in Ukraine.

“That’s why I think the discussions going on today have that added edge, because of the threats we face to democracy right now.”

Mr Dowden said he was deeply concerned about the reported weapons transfers from North Korea to Russia, and called on Moscow to stop interfering on the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang and Moscow have forged closer ties since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Putin in Russia in September and vowed to deepen military relations.

North Korea is suspected of supplying munitions to Russia.