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Russia may wage war in Ukraine for years, but ammunition quality in doubt — WSJ

Russia is likely to be able to produce enough equipment and ammunition for several more years of warfare
Russia is likely to be able to produce enough equipment and ammunition for several more years of warfare

Russia can likely keep fighting in Ukraine at the current scale for two to five more years, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 11, citing military experts.

This ability comes despite sanctions aimed at crippling Russia's defense industry. Russia’s ability to churn out tanks, missiles, and shells has surprised the West and heaped further pressure on Ukraine, the WSJ said.

Russia has ramped up spending, with defense now accounting for over 21% of the federal budget, significantly higher than in 2020 (14%). It is predicted that this share will increase in 2024 to more than 29%. Russia also found ways to work around sanctions, acquiring Western components through intermediaries.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in December that Russia was producing 17.5 times as much ammunition, 17 times as many drones, and 5.6 times as many tanks as it did before the war.

Read also: Russia produces almost three times more artillery shells than the US and the EU can supply to Ukraine

A senior NATO official stated that Russia can likely sustain its war effort at the current scale for two to five more years, and at least two European military intelligence agencies share this belief, the WSJ said.

“The central bank’s analysis also shows that much of the increase in defense-related output was in low-tech products, such as fabricated steel, rather than more sophisticated items, like semiconductors, for which Russia is reliant on foreign suppliers,” the article said.

Some analysts question Moscow’s production boasts. Russia’s output figures, for instance, don’t differentiate between newly produced armored vehicles and old models brought out of storage and refurbished, the WSJ said.

“They are hyping up the numbers,” said Michael Gjerstad, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Based on a review of satellite images before and after the start of the war, in 2023 Russia brought out at least 1,200 old tanks from storage, Gjerstad said. Therefore, Russia produced 330 new tanks in 2023 at the very most, though the true figure is likely to be half that number, he said.

Read also: ‘If Russia is not stopped in Ukraine, there will be a war in Europe,’ Ukrainian FM says

Russia has also dipped into reserves of old artillery ammunition, the journalists said. The stockpile now stands at around 3 million rounds, much of which is in poor condition, the Royal United Services Institute, a UK-based think tank, said.

Russia’s domestic ammunition production isn’t sufficient to meet its needs for waging war in Ukraine, meaning Moscow will grow more dependent on foreign allies, the analysts said.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine