- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

NATO Allies Nearing Limit of Heavy Weapons They Can Send to Ukraine, Ex-Artillery Commander Says

© AP Photo / Sebastian Apel/US Defense Department Patriot weapons system (File)
Patriot weapons system (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2022
BRUSSELS Sputnik) – Ukraine's NATO donors have hardly anything left in their arsenals to send to Ukraine despite Kiev pressing the United States and Europe for longer-range missile systems to keep Russian troops at bay, a former NATO artillery commander told Sputnik.
sEU security policy chief Josep Borrell said on May 22 that the European Union had run out of military hardware helping Ukraine. All eyes are on the US after a White House official announced the next $700 million aid package would include HIMARS guided-missile systems that can hit targets up to 50 miles away.
Pierre Henrot, who served as a high-ranking nuclear artillery officer in NATO and a UN peacekeeper in the Balkans, told Sputnik that decisions to supply Ukraine with the heaviest equipment yet date back to late April. US President Joe Biden ruled out donating M270 self-propelled missile systems, with a range of 300 kilometers, for fear that Ukrainian troops would strike into Russia.

"I think we are coming to the limits of what Europe and even the US is willing to provide to Ukraine, despite the renewed pressing demands by the Zelensky government… The US has sent a lot and could send more of the same, in replacement of losses… As for the Europeans, despite the publicity made about these dispatches, they simply can’t send more heavy equipment, since not much more is available in their arsenals," he said.

"Despite the difficult situation of the Ukrainian army in the Donbass, the US has reached a limit to the type of arms that it will provide. Moreover, the NATO countries know that they are dangerously flirting with the concept of co-belligerence and don’t want to be dragged in a direct confrontation with Moscow," Henrot added.
The US, Australia and Canada have agreed to send towed 155mm M777 howitzers to Ukraine. The expert said he would be surprised if they provided Excalibur rounds, which offer GPS-guided precision targeting from ranges of 30 kilometers and more, because a single shot costs $80,000. France has offered Ukraine 155mm Caesar canons but their munitions are not compatible with M777 howitzers. The Netherlands will give up some of its stock of 50 howitzers, while Germany has slightly outdated Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to offer to Ukraine, instead of the coveted Leopard 2 battle tanks.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 06, 2022 US military personnel stand by a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during Saudi Arabia’s first World Defense Show, north of the capital Riyadh. - - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2022
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"This cannot really make a difference on the battlefield. Moreover, the gunners have to be trained abroad, and as an artillery commander, I consider that you need a year to make sure the gunner teams are fully capable to use the artillery pieces at the best of their capacity and accuracy… US and European aid will therefore not be very effective," Henrot said.
Logistics is another weak point of allies’ plan to assist Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. The armaments are heavily dependent on supply chains for spare parts and munitions, the expert explained. Shells need to be brought in by the thousands to the positions and logistics lines can be easily interrupted by the Russian air force and cruise missiles. There are 1250 kilometers by road from the Polish border to Donbass with quite a few bridges over the Dnieper River that have been blown up, and even rail tracks are not compatible for trains between West and East.
The Ukrainians also need spare parts that have to come from the US or Europe. In NATO, the ordering of everything, from guns to oil, is done by computer. Henrot said he doubted that the Ukrainians would be granted access to PCs capable of entering NATO logistic networks: all it would take is for a Ukrainian logistics battalion to surrender to the Russians for the secret NATO procedures and equipment to fall into the hands of the Russian army.
US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2022
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Henrot said the relations between Kiev and Brussels were already tense and could worsen rapidly. Germany has been reluctant to send modern weaponry, while Hungary has angered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by refusing to give it any assistance beyond humanitarian aid. So far, only Poland and the Baltic states have been staunchly on Kiev’s side but they are the only countries willing to go further.
"All European member states are not on the same wavelength, especially on military equipment… When you see the difficulties for the EU to define a common policy on the embargo of Russian crude oil, you realize the EU will probably stop at the sixth package of sanctions and will not produce a seventh package," the expert suggested.
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