• Ukraine reported no shortages of artillery shells for the first time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
  • Ukrainian forces have been suffering from severe shortages of shells in recent months.
  • Ukraine has been unable to fire more than 2,000 artillery shells a day, its defense minister said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this week that Ukraine's forces had reported no shortages of artillery shells for the first time since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, the Kyiv Independent reported.

"For the first time during the war, none of the brigades complained that there were no artillery shells," Zelenskyy said on May 16.

According to reports, the refreshed artillery is now helping to blunt Russian advances around Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city.

In sharp contrast to battles in January-April, during which the US halted all military assistance to Ukraine, Ukrainian soldier and milblogger Stanislav Osman, author of the popular Hovoryat Snaiper channel, observed that Russian forces attacking in the Kharkiv sector have been facing punishing artillery fire and even attack helicopter strikes, The Kyiv Post reported.

The shell famine

A Ukrainian soldier prepares 155mm artillery shells in his fighting position as Ukrainian Army conduct operation to target trenches of Russian forces through the Donetsk Oblast amid Russia and Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on August 6, 2023. Foto: Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukraine's armed forces have faced severe artillery shortages in recent months, partly due to a US military aid package being stalled in Congress.

Ukraine's defense minister, Rustem Umerov, wrote in a letter to EU counterparts in February that the shortages had left Ukraine unable to fire more than 2,000 artillery shells a day, roughly one-third of Russia's capacity.

Ukraine has also lost significant territory in eastern regions since late 2023, and it has blamed munitions shortages on major losses, such as the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region.

Despite President Zelenskyy's upbeat messaging this week, a frontline report by BBC News this week appeared to suggest shells could still be in short supply for some units.

Petr Pavel, the president of the Czech Republic, told reporters in March that eighteen countries are participating in the initiative to fund the purchases.

The release of $61 billion in US aid in April also boosted Ukraine's hard-pressed forces battling the Russian invasion.The release of $61 billion in US aid in April was also a boost to Ukraine's hard-pressed forces battling the Russian invasion.

Despite this, Russian artillery will likely outmatch Ukraine's for most of 2024, officials and analysts told Foreign Policy.

Russia can produce around 250,000 artillery munitions a month — or around 3 million a year, CNN reported, citing NATO intelligence estimates of Russian defense production.

Russian forces are now focused on conducting an offensive on the northeastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, which Russian President Vladimir Putin claims is part of an attempt to create a "buffer zone" to protect Russian border areas from Ukrainian attacks.

Gen. Christopher Cavoli said earlier this week that Russia likely does "not have sufficient forces to achieve a 'strategic breakthrough' in Ukraine," however, per the Institute for the Study of War think tank.

He added that he expected Ukrainian forces would "hold the line" near Kharkiv City.

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