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Ukraine war faces looming missile shortage

Shortage of missiles may restrict the intensity of the war

A destroyed Russian tank stands across the road of a church in the town of Sviatohirsk, Ukraine | AP A destroyed Russian tank stands across the road of a church in the town of Sviatohirsk, Ukraine | AP

A shortage of missiles and artillery ammunition—the main weapons of destruction and havoc in the ongoing Ukraine war—are looming large over the warring sides Russia and Ukraine which may impact the intensity of the conflict in the near future.

The main reason for the scarcity is simple. The frequency of the widespread use of missiles ever since the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022, is much more than the rate at which they can be replaced or be replicated by the military-industrial complex. And the shortage is looming over both the warring sides Russia and Ukraine.

On Saturday, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister tweeted the number of missiles the Russians had in stock, the numbers used and the quantity remaining.

The chart posted by Reznikov shows that Russia had used 81 per cent of its total of about 2,257 strategic missiles that it had stockpiled before the war. But of Russia’s total stockpile of about 8,970 tactical missiles, only 22 per cent had been used.

The basic difference between strategic and tactical missiles is the range. The former has a much higher range than the latter. Both can be launched from land, sea and air.

Russia's arsenal of strategic missiles comprises the Iskander, Kalibr, Kinzhal, Kh 101 etc while the tactical missile arsenal mostly consists of the Onyx, the S-300 and the Kh 29/31/35/58/59 set of missiles. Russia also has an arsenal of hypersonic missiles like the Zircon.

While the Ukrainian defence minister’s Russian missile numbers is most likely to have an element of propaganda, Ukraine’s missile stockpile is what the US and its allies are giving to the Ukrainians and that is reportedly under severe stress as Ukraine’s firing power depends on the US-led West sustaining the large volumes of artillery and rocket system fire.

Many experts have admitted that Russia is yet to employ its cutting-edge platforms in the war and may be more interested in wearing Ukraine down in a prolonged conflict.

On the other hand, the US-led West is seemingly interested in keeping the Russians engaged and systematically depleting the latter’s war arsenal and inventory.

That is possibly the reason why the US-led alliance is not supplying Ukraine with the most modern war platforms available.

The latest announcement of the US giving 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, France giving AMX-10 RC infantry fighting vehicles and Germany providing its Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle, among other platforms, are definitely not the best and most modern ‘tank’ platforms these countries had to offer.

The best and most state-of-the-art US, French and German platforms in this particular class would have been the M1 Abrams tank, the Leclerc and the Leopard tank respectively.

On Friday, the Biden administration okayed another tranche of additional security assistance for Ukraine valued at $3.075 billion. With this, the US has given more than $24.2 billion since February 24 when Russian Special Forces moved into Ukraine.  

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