Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-06-14 08:06:47 : Andrew E. Kramer and Valerie Hopkins
KYIV, Ukraine — For weeks, Ukrainian officials have pleaded for powerful Western weapons as a way to stave off battlefield defeats. A senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky shifted this messaging on weapons on Monday by laying out for the first time the total number of howitzers, rocket launchers and tanks Ukraine thinks it would need to win the war against Russia.
At the same time, the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, accused Western leaders of being reluctant to seriously address Ukraine’s gigantic disadvantage in long-range weaponry, and the scale of what will be needed to even the odds. He suggested that Western nations lacked a sense of urgency even as Ukraine’s army, low on ammunition and taking heavy casualties, is being battered in fighting in the East.
And he suggested that some Western European countries, including France and Germany, were “hiding from the war.”
“If you think we should lose, just tell us directly: ‘We want you to lose.’ Then we will understand why you give us weapons at this level,” Mr. Podolyak said in an interview in the presidential office compound in Kyiv.
The United States and its allies have provided about 100 howitzers and several dozen self-propelled artillery guns. The Biden administration promised this month to send multiple-launch rocket systems.
Mr. Podolyak said the scope of that support was far from sufficient to combat the firepower the Russian army’s heavy, mechanized units have brought to bear. Russian forces are now firing about 70,000 projectiles per day in combat in the eastern region known as Donbas, he said, about 10 times as much as Ukrainian artillery teams can fire.
For Ukraine to achieve parity with the Russian army in the east, Mr. Podolyak said, Western nations will need to provide it with 1,000 howitzers, 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles and 1,000 drones.
Lacking that level of firepower, the Ukrainian military command has resorted to a risky strategy of seeking to engage the Russian military in street fighting in the city of Sievierodonetsk to at least inflict casualties on Russian units that would not be possible in the open fields.
Mr. Podolyak, who is also a negotiator in now-stalled settlement talks with Russia, offered his assessment ahead of a meeting of Western defense ministers to discuss military aid for Ukraine, scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels.
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