Shell shortages force us to limit firing

Shell shortages force us to limit firing

Ukraine's gunners have to use ammunition rounds sparingly, as there is a shortage of artillery shells.

Their gun, like most artillery systems provided by the West, fires 155-mm projectiles that are also supplied by foreign partners.

The problem is, Ukraine's troops need more rounds than their allies can currently give them.

Without ammunition, Ukraine won't just have to stop trying to recapture land: it won't be able to stop Russia's attacks and could ultimately lose this war.

"Right now, the enemy is trying to break through [our defence lines]. Each day, there are at least two attacks, but we repel them all," says Igor, a platoon commander from the 93rd Brigade. His crew has been on watch since 05:00.

Igor's unit defends areas near the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which Russia seized last May after months of bloody, brutal fighting.

The gunners here are very pleased with their newly-arrived Paladins donated by western partners. The howitzers are kept hidden under tents and half-buried in the ground, due to the growing threat of enemy drones.

This winter is not going to be quiet on the front line, says Sashko, one of the crew members, as he picks up an artillery shell.

He carefully carries the 43-kg explosive round, trying not to slip on the frozen ground.

Ukraine's soldiers are highly-motivated by the fight to liberate their own country, this is one of the most challenging times for its military since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. 

This crew, like all others who operate aging Soviet-made howitzers and artillery systems, want to get western guns - they are faster, simpler and more accurate, they say. And their range is longer, which can be lifesaving for artillerymen.

But the fact that a $60bn aid package has stalled in the US Congress, amid a row over US border security, appears to have contributed to a sense of disillusionment among these men.

Abdujalil Abdurasulov