Following Ukraine’s struggles going up against Russian artillery in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv has requested more heavy weaponry from its Western allies to defeat the war. Specifically, the Ukrainian Government requested more NATO-standard multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), howitzers, and tanks to help their forces repel further Russian advances in Severodonetsk.
The request was made through Twitter, where Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak made the large request public.
“I will be straightforward,” he said. “To end the war and throw Russia out of Ukraine, we need heavy weapons parity,” enumerating that they specifically needed 1,000 155mm caliber howitzers, 300 MLRS, 500 tanks, 2,000 units of armored vehicles, and 1,000 drones.
They requested these weapons ahead of the Ukrainian Contact Group of Defense Ministers meeting, where they expect to have a reply regarding their request.
This comes after reports that the Ukrainians have been suffering massive losses of up to 200 men a day as continuous Russian shelling pummel them in the east, leading the Russians to push them out of the city center of Severodonetsk.
The Russians have also been incurring heavy losses since the beginning of the war as they continue to send untrained soldiers to fight on the eastern frontlines, just as the Russian forces have a significant range advantage in terms of artillery compared to Ukrainian artillery. SOFREP has reported that Russia has 12 times the range Ukraine does with its artillery that can only reach up to 15.5 miles. In contrast, the Russians can hit Ukrainian targets from 50 to 180 miles using their Smerch and Uragan MLRS as well as the usage of ballistic missiles. Also, based on previous reports, the Russians have an advantage in supplies of ammunition, but intel finds that the Russian forces are also running out of these munitions.
It is because of this bloodshed that the fighting in Ukraine has been dubbed as having the heaviest fighting in Europe since World War II.
Several bridges connecting Severodonetsk to Lysychansk were also destroyed, further hampering the supply and evacuation routes of Ukraine. This may lead them to be surrounded by Russian forces, as what happened in the southern port city of Mariupol, but it was determined by the Institute for the Study of War that the Russians have continually failed despite trying to do so.
How Many Howitzers, MLRS, Tanks, Armored Vehicles, and Drones Were Donated to Ukraine So Far?
So, exactly how much of this equipment did Ukraine already receive prior to this new request? According to open source data collectors Oryx, an organization that records all statuses of military equipment in Ukraine, Kyiv had received the following number of equipment:
For towed artillery, Ukraine had received 108 155mm M777 howitzers from the United States (accompanied by 105 FMTV armored trucks for towing). Estonia had also donated 9 122mm D-30s last March, followed by an unknown number of 155mm FH-70s. Australia delivered six units of 155mm M777 howitzers last April, with Canada also delivering four 155mm M777 howitzers accompanied by an undisclosed number of M982 Excalibur GPS-guided Shells. Portugal will be delivering five 155mm M114A1. The Italians donated an unknown number of 155mm FH-70s, the Bulgarians delivered an unknown number of 152mm D-20 howitzers as well, with the United Kingdom also donating 105mm L118/L119 howitzers. The Czech Republic also donated an unknown number and unknown type of howitzer.
This leaves Ukraine with 132 donated towed artillery. Keep in mind that some countries did not disclose how many they would be sending, so this number may be higher. We suspect if they had donated a large number it would have been disclosed. More than a few NATO countries have made donations of weapons to Ukraine that we would call token-sized in order to garner headlines at home while not doing enough to upset Russia.
In terms of self-propelled artillery, the Czech Republic donated some 20 units of 152mm ShKH vz. 77 DANA, along with an unknown number of 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika. Poland delivered 20 122mm 2s1 Gozdzik last April, followed by 18 donated 155mm AHS Krab (54 are to be purchased by Ukraine). The French sent some 12 units of 155mm Caesar howitzers, with the Netherlands donating 5 155mm PzH 2000. Germany also donated seven 155mm PzH 2000s. Slovakia had also let Ukraine purchase some eight 155mm ShKH Zuzana 2s to be delivered, and Norway also sent 22 155mm M109A3GNs.
That comes up to 166 self-propelled artillery if we add the known number of units in various stages of delivery.
For tanks, the Czech Republic delivered 40 units of the T-72M1 tank last April. Some 230 T-72M and T-72M1(R) tanks have been received from Poland, and Bulgaria donated an unknown number of T-72M1 tanks to NATO for political reasons. Thus, Ukraine has some 270 donated tanks.
For armored carriers, the United States had donated 200 M113s that are yet to be delivered to Ukraine, with Denmark pledging 50 units of M113G3DKs. The United Kingdom will be delivering 35 FV103 Spartan vehicles, with Lithuania and Portugal also delivering 20 and 15 M113s respectively. Fourteen units of the M113AS4 are to be delivered from Australia, with an unknown number of YPR-765s coming from the Netherlands.
This totals 334 units of APCs. If we include infantry mobility vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, and armored fighting vehicles, the number would total 555 units.
Some 100 UAVs were donated by the US to Ukraine along with an undisclosed number of RQ-20 Pumas, with Denmark also donating 25 Heidrun UAVs. Countries such as Poland, Turkey (through Lithuania’s crowdfunding project), and the Netherlands also donated UAVs, however, they did not disclose how many.
Lastly, for the Multiple Rocket Launchers, the Czech Republic sent some 20 122mm RM-70s, with Poland also sending some 20 122mm BM-21 Grad. The US is also sending 4 227mm HIMARS, with the British sending 3 227mm M270B1 MLRS. The Germans also pledged 4 units of 227mm M270 MARS MLRS, with Bulgaria also sending in an undisclosed number of 122mm BM-21 Grads. This totals to 51 units.
How Do These Requests from Ukraine Make You Feel?
Military analysts have said that Podolyak’s tweet was a negotiating gambit. These military experts stated that this tactic from the Ukrainians, by being very blunt and demanding of heavy offensive weaponry might be counterproductive. Other countries may see them as unthankful for the help they have been receiving or it may work to their advantage as it may be interpreted as Ukrainians not having time for any nonsense.
On the other hand, it does establish a baseline for what Ukraine actually needs to fight and win this war to regain their country and their freedom. If the US and NATO strategy is to just trickle arms into Ukraine to prolong the conflict thinking that the Russians will eventually tire of their losses and just give up they might note the nearly 20-year conflict Russia fought to finally subdue Chechnia. Ukraine’s own strategic aims would be to end the war as quickly as possible to stop casualties among their troops and civilians and the economic devastation of half the country. Ukraine enjoys a sizable advantage in having a large country that is hard to occupy with troops and high morale among its armed forces. While Russian morale would have a hard time sinking any further, a long, grinding conflict will certainly wear down Ukraine’s troops physically and their own morale will flag as well.
The question now is if Ukraine’s western allies would heed such a large number of requests. Do its western allies have enough stock to fulfill these requests? Are several countries willing to give out such a huge number of heavy offensive weapons that it might deplete their own stock?