Ukraine is outnumbered, "outgunned", grounded by ruthless Russia


As the war in Ukraine enters its third year, the 59th Infantry Brigade faces a grim reality, running out of soldiers and ammunition to resist the Russian invaders.

The commander of a Ukrainian platoon codenamed "Tiger" estimates that only 60-70% of the several thousand men in the brigade at the start of the conflict are still serving. The rest were killed, wounded or sent home due to old age or illness.

Ukrainian War / Photo EPA-EFE/STAS KOZLIUK

The heavy casualties inflicted by the Ukrainian forces are compounded by the terrible conditions on the eastern front, the frozen ground turning into thick mud in the higher temperatures, wreaking havoc among the ranks of the soldiers.

"The weather is constantly changing - rain, snow, rain, snow. People get sick from the common flu or angina. They have been out of action for a while and there is no one to replace them," says one of the commanders deployed on the front line. reports "Reuters".

Vladimir Putin's Russia has seen success in recent years in a conflict that combines trench warfare that looks a lot like a World War I scene but is now riddled with high-tech weapons like drones that destroy tens of thousands of military vehicles.

Moscow has made small gains in recent months and scored a major victory at the weekend when it took control of Avdiivka in the hotly contested eastern Donetsk region.

A spokesman for the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, one of the units that tried to hold the city, said the ratio of attackers to defenders in this battle was seven to one.

Reuters spoke to more than 20 soldiers and commanders in infantry, drone and artillery units in various parts of the 1.000-kilometer front in eastern and southern Ukraine.

While still motivated to fight the Russian occupation, they spoke of the challenges of containing a larger and better-armed enemy as military support from the West slows despite pleas for more weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kiev relies heavily on money and equipment from abroad to fund its war effort, but with $61 billion in US aid blocked by Republicans in Washington, Ukraine now appears more vulnerable than at the start of the invasion.

Ukraine needs the most ammunition for the howitzers it received from the US - EPA photo, Sergey Kozlov

Artillery shells are also in short supply as a result of the inability of Western countries to keep up the pace of supplies for a protracted war.

In addition to the break in supplies to the US, the EU has admitted that it will not succeed in its intention to deliver a million grenades to Ukraine by March.

Moscow now controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine's territory, including the Crimean peninsula it annexed in 2014, even if the front lines of the war have largely stagnated over the past 14 months.

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