The United States is wondering if Russia has enough artillery to keep up its war in Ukraine.
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT—Russia is experiencing significant shortages of artillery that are impacting its fire-focused military to carry on the fight in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday.
In a sign of ongoing logistics struggles that have plagued Russia throughout the war, in recent weeks the Kremlin has continued outreach to Iran and North Korea to try to get more artillery munitions to take the fight to Ukrainians, especially as Western sanctions and export controls have bitten into Russia’s ability to make precision-guided rounds. But the situation, first worsened by Ukrainian targeting, has become more dire as Russian troops have lost nearly half of the territory gained in the early days of the full-scale invasion, mostly in Kharkiv and Kherson.
“We see them experiencing significant shortages of artillery munitions and reaching out to Iran and North Korea to get help from them,” Austin told reporters aboard the E-4B aircraft traveling back from Cambodia after a five-day trip that covered Canada and Southeast Asia, including a meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. Austin, a retired four-star general who last led U.S. Central Command during the early days of the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2015 and 2016, said the dire shortages have impacted Russia’s military approach, which is “to use vast amounts of artillery and then, at the eleventh hour, maneuver.”
“For that kind of operation, it requires a lot of munitions,” he added. “I’m not sure they have those kinds of munitions to be able to support that going forward.” Russia has already struggled to restock critically low supplies of precision-guided munitions because of Western restrictions on exporting microchips, forcing the Kremlin to rely more heavily on Iranian-made drones........