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By Mia Jankowicz- Ammunition left behind by fleeing Russian troops is filling Ukraine’s depleted reserves and powering its counteroffensive, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Russia’s hurried retreat from the Kharkiv region in early September involved troops abandoning hardware including tanks, other armored vehicles, and howitzers. They also left behind huge quantities of Soviet-caliber artillery shells, the paper reported.
“The Russians no longer have a firepower advantage,” an unnamed artillery officer told the paper. “We smashed up all their artillery units before launching the offensive, and then we started to move ahead so fast that they didn’t even have time to fuel up and load their tanks. They just fled and left everything behind.”
The report said that equipment was being turned on Russian forces as Ukraine advances beyond the recently recaptured city of Lyman in the Donbas region.
The recapture of Lyman provides strategic advantages, as the city served as a supply and logistics hub for Russia’s operation in the region.
Ukraine had previously struggled to match Russia in sheer quantity of firepower. Much of Ukraine’s military arsenal is Russian or Soviet equipment, making it hard to replenish its stock.
In March, Western officials reported that Ukrainian troops in Mariupol were resupplying by taking ammo from Russian soldiers.
In June, Vitaliy Kim, the governor of the southern region of Mykolaiv, said, “We are out of ammo,” Voice of America reported.
The US depleted its own reserves of some ammunition in supplying Ukraine. An unnamed defense official told the Journal in late August that levels of 155 mm ammunition were becoming “uncomfortably low.”
But this has begun to change since Ukraine’s lightning-fast counteroffensive in September. As its forces recaptured huge swaths of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region, Russians dropped their guns and abandoned tanks.
One Ukrainian soldier, identified only as Birdie, told The Telegraph that during that effort, Russian troops “left a huge amount of vehicles and ammunition,” adding, “We couldn’t transfer or evacuate it all to our rear.”
The Twitter account of Ukraine’s defense ministry mocked the Russians by describing them as “the largest supplier of military equipment for the Ukrainian army.”
Oryx, a project to document and track military-equipment usage and losses, has counted 442 Russian tanks captured by Ukrainians throughout the war. The Journal’s report, citing Oryx, said 320 tanks had been supplied to Ukraine from elsewhere.
Armored fighting vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles that Ukraine captured from Russia also outnumbered foreign donations, according to Oryx. (Business Insider)