Ukraine’s defence minister says supply delays are costing lives

25 February 2024, 19:44

Russia Ukraine War
Russia Ukraine War. Picture: PA

Rustan Umerov said that each delayed aid shipment meant Ukrainian troop losses.

Half of promised Western military support to Ukraine fails to arrive on time, complicating the task of military planners and ultimately costing the lives of soldiers, the country’s defence minister said.

Speaking at the Ukraine. Year 2024 forum in Kyiv, Rustan Umerov said that each delayed aid shipment meant Ukrainian troop losses, and underscored Russia’s superior military might.

Commemorations to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Saturday brought expressions of continued support, new bilateral security agreements and fresh aid commitments from Ukraine’s Western allies.

But Mr Umerov said they still needed to deliver on their commitments if Ukraine is to have any chance of holding out against Russia.

ANNIVERSARY Ukraine
(PA Graphics)

“We look to the enemy: their economy is almost two trillion dollars, they use up to 15% official and non-official budget (funds) for the war, which constitutes over 150 billion US dollars annually.

“So basically whenever a commitment doesn’t come on time, we lose people, we lose territory,” he said on Sunday.

Mr Umerov and Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi toured front-line combat posts earlier amid a worsening ammunition shortage and dogged Russian attacks in the east.

They heard from front-line troops and “thoroughly analysed” the battlefield situation on their visit, Mr Syrskyi said in a Telegram update.

He did not specify where exactly he and Mr Umerov went, but said that “the situation is difficult” for Ukrainian troops and “needs constant control” along many stretches of the front.

Ukraine has suffered setbacks on the battlefield, having lost the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka following intense battles this month, and as military aid for Kyiv hangs in the balance in the US Congress.

Mr Syrskyi earlier this month replaced Ukraine’s top military commander, Valerii Zaluzhny, in the most significant shakeup of the top brass since the start of the full-scale war, after a long-expected counteroffensive last summer failed to produce major breakthroughs.

Russia still controls roughly a quarter of the country.

During a press conference after the forum on Sunday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said four brigades did not take part in the country’s counteroffensive against Russian forces because they had not received the equipment they were expecting.

“Can you imagine the numbers of guys who would have fought, who couldn’t? The ones that had to sit and wait for the equipment they never received?” he said.

The Ukrainian leader also confirmed plans for an international peace summit to tackle issues exacerbated by the war, such as nuclear or food security, in Switzerland in 2024.

That would be followed by a potential invitation to Russian representatives to attend a second summit later in the year. However, Mr Zelensky said Ukraine would not submit to a peace plan that did not serve its interests, and discarded the idea of direct negotiations.

“Is it possible to talk to a man who kills his opponents?” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We will offer a platform where he can agree that he has lost this war and that it was a mistake.”

Mr Zelensky also spoke about ongoing fighting in northeastern Ukraine, where front-line conflict has intensified in recent months leading to the capture of the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka. He said that Moscow was using heavy artillery fire to put pressure on Ukrainian forces in the directions of Kharkiv and Kupiansk.

However, his speech remained defiant. “Will Ukraine lose in this war? I am sure that it won’t. Our most difficult moment was on February 24 two years ago. We have no alternative but to win. If Ukraine loses, then we will not exist. We do not want such an ending to this fight for our lives.”

Russian shelling and rocket strikes on Sunday continued to pummel Ukraine’s south and east, as local Ukrainian officials reported that at least two civilians were killed and a further eight suffered wounds in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces.

Russia Ukraine War
Firefighters put out the fire in a railway station after Russians hit in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine (Alex Babenko/AP)

A woman was wounded and a railway station turned into a smouldering ruin amid heavy shelling in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka, according to the head of the municipal military administration.

Ukraine’s public broadcaster, Suspilne, cited local police as saying that the strikes also damaged an Orthodox church, over a dozen residential buildings and dozens of shops, a post office, schools and local government offices.

Russia and Ukraine also continued to trade nightly drone attacks, with Ukraine’s air defences shooting down 16 of 18 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched overnight by Moscow.

A Russian drone on Sunday morning struck an unspecified facility in Ukraine’s western Khmelnytskyi region, the regional military administration reported without giving details.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry on Sunday morning reported it had downed seven Ukrainian drones — four over the Black Sea and three over Russia’s southern Belgorod region.

It did not immediately mention any casualties or damage.

By Press Association

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