Artillery is playing an increasingly important role in the fighting in Ukraine, and both sides need an uninterrupted supply of ammunition. Their stocks in Western countries are limited, and manufacturers do not have time to produce ammunition at the speed with which they are spent on the battlefield.
Therefore, the United States, the main supplier of weapons to Ukraine, agreed with Israel and South Korea on the use of American ammunition stored in warehouses in these countries, writes The New York Times, citing officials. The US has already provided or promised to provide Ukraine with 1,074,000 155mm shells, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Of these, a significant part (but less than half) is accounted for by ammunition from warehouses from these two countries, a senior US official told the newspaper.
Both Israel and South Korea refused to supply weapons to Ukraine, although they sent it, for example, body armor, helmets, first aid kits, blankets, etc. But the weapons placed in American warehouses in these countries and intended for use in confrontation with hostile neighbors belong to the United States . And the authorities of both countries eventually agreed to allow Washington to take some of the ammunition to send it to Ukraine.
According to Israeli and US officials, the Pentagon and Tel Aviv agreed to supply about 300,000 155mm shells; about half of them have already been sent to Europe and will eventually reach Ukraine via Poland. The Korean authorities do not want ROK (Republic of Korea)-marked shells to appear in Ukraine, as this would violate national arms export rules. Therefore, shells from Korean warehouses will replenish US stocks in other countries, and the Pentagon will be able to send Ukraine more of its own ammunition.
In addition, as The Wall Street Journal reported, the US agreed to buy 100,000 of its own shells from Korea; they, too, can replace ammunition in warehouses in the United States.
Israel, in addition, offered Kyiv in October a system for early detection of missiles and drones, but they then replied that it was “too late and too little.” However, last week, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevhen Korneichuk told Ukrinform that the new Israeli government is officially transferring these technologies to Ukraine.
Defense Department spokesman Patrick Ryder told the New York Times that the Pentagon “will not be discussing location or specific weapons” for security reasons. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said: “At the request of the US, some weapons were transferred to the US Department of Defense from its stocks” in Israel.
The Ukrainian army consumes about 90,000 artillery shells per month, writes NYT; that’s about twice as much as American and European companies combined, say Westerners. The rest has to be taken from other sources, including stocks and commercial purchases.
CSIS does give an estimate of 143,000 rounds per month (in the six months since June, when Western guns and self-propelled artillery mounts began to be actively used) – this does not include Soviet-made artillery, which was in service with the Ukrainian army. Due to such active use, about a third of the 155-mm howitzers supplied by the United States and other Western countries are now under repair, writes NYT.
According to the newspaper, the US military has begun teaching Ukrainians how to use artillery more effectively in recent months. Russia also appears to be experiencing supply issues, Pentagon officials say, as artillery fire from Russian troops has dropped sharply in recent weeks.