Kiev’s ‘Big Zoo of Western Weapons’ Making Repairs Very Hard
Ukraine’s defense minister has floated recruiting US technical personnel to help Kiev service and repair the billions of dollars in NATO military hardware sent to the country over the past year. But there’s a simple reason Washington will be reluctant to accommodate Kiev’s wishes, says Russian military expert Boris Rozhin.
Kiev would like the US to deploy repair and maintenance specialists as close to the battlefield as possible to fix Ukraine’s worn out and damaged military equipment, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said.
“I am sure that our partners could hire such specialists, and we would do everything in our capacity to organize for them to come to Ukraine,” Reznikov said in a briefing last week. “We have been suggesting for quite a long time that our partners assist in providing maintenance at the maximum proximity to the battlefield.”
“It is very complicated to send a tank all the way to Europe for repairs,” the defense minister said. “If we could have specialists with access to the necessary documents come here, it would really help.”
Leaked classified Pentagon documents on US military planning and intelligence related to the Ukrainian crisis recently revealed that about half-a-dozen NATO countries already have small numbers of special forces troops on the ground in Ukraine, in addition to CIA personnel, private military contractors, and an unknown number of ‘volunteer’ mercenaries.
Groups of US officials, military officers and private donors have been lobbying to send Western mechanics to the frontlines, but there has been no confirmation, either from the leaks or US government media releases, of these initiatives receiving official backing from Washington or NATO at this stage.
“The problem is that that the repair enterprises based in Ukraine are coming under attack. Therefore, the West wants such repair enterprises to be created on the territory of NATO countries,” says Boris Rozhin, a military expert with the Center for Military-Political Journalism, an independent Russian military affairs think tank.
“Whatever can be repaired quickly is fixed in ordinary workshops or in the shops of defense enterprises, which is problematic, especially when it comes to various artillery systems, where it’s necessary to rebuild or swap out components which may be in short supply. Such equipment is shipped out of Ukraine and repaired in the Baltic States, in Poland, in Romania,” the observer explained in an interview with Sputnik.
Ukraine’s military-related enterprises are coming under relentless Russian air and missile strikes, which means that if Western specialists are deployed there, they could easily be killed or injured, Rozhin warned.
Therefore, he said, although Kiev’s efforts to shorten the logistics chain are logical, since this would save both time and resources, NATO will be unlikely to be interested in losses of its own troops, instead preferring to keep the conflict a proxy war with Russia.
As things are, Ukraine’s repair workshops are situated on the second and third echelons, close enough to the front that a piece of equipment can be driven there and fixed on the spot –retooling the engine or replacing some parts, changing tires, etc., Rozhin explained.
“But here it’s important to understand that Ukraine has limited opportunities to repair its big zoo of NATO equipment. That means specific specialists, specific [equipment] are needed there. Naturally, mechanics who know every type of machine do not exist,” he noted. The same goes for spare parts for every kind of weapon. That’s why equipment has to be sent out of Ukraine to neighboring countries.
“Ukraine has seen the influx of a huge amount of equipment, produced in different years, based on different schools of vehicle, armor and tank construction. Accordingly, this creates huge problems when it comes to the maintenance of such a diverse park of equipment. It is difficult for any army to make sure that parts for various types of vehicles are interchangeable and can be repaired quickly and recommissioned. But when you have a mismatch of different machines, a serious problem arises in the search for spare parts, and even with the simplest repairs. Just imagine how many vehicles fall into disrepair, how many of them require maintenance, how long this takes. And the problem is not just that Ukraine wants to carry out maintenance even closer to the front…[but] that it may need spare parts which, for the sake of argument, might have to be imported from some other continent. That, of course, is a problem,” Rozhin said.
On top of that, the military expert noted, notwithstanding the delivery of Western air defense systems, including Patriots, to Ukraine, these aren’t capable of providing guarantees of an effective air defense bubble, with military targets continuing to be struck as before.
“Naturally they strengthen the enemy, but this is a forced measure, because Ukraine has a limited number of Soviet-made missile systems,” which make up the backbone of their defenses, “and, even more importantly, a limited number of missiles for them. Anti-aircraft missiles are not produced in Ukraine and it is quite difficult to buy them on the market…[Russia’s] hunt for air defense systems never stopped – if there is an opportunity to destroy them, we will destroy them. Putin has already spoken about this,” Rozhin summed up.
6 January 2023, 02:08 GMT