Ukraine's defense minister says delays in promised Western military aid are costing lives

By Isaac M February 25, 2024

Half of promised Western military support to Ukraine fails to arrive on time, complicating the task of military planners and ultimately costing the lives of soldiers, the country’s defense minister said Sunday.

Speaking at the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum in Kyiv, Rustan Umerov said that each delayed aid shipment meant Ukrainian troop losses, and underscored Russia’s superior military might.

Commemorations to mark the second anniversary of Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Saturday brought expressions of continued support, new bilateral security agreements and fresh aid commitments from Ukraine’s Western allies. But Umerov said they still needed to deliver on their commitments if Ukraine is to have any chance of holding out against Russia.

“We look to the enemy: their economy is almost 2 trillion dollars, they use up to 15% official and non-official budget (funds) for the war, which constitutes over $100 billion dollars annually. So basically whenever a commitment doesn’t come on time, we lose people, we lose territory,” he said.

Umerov and Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi toured front-line combat posts earlier Sunday amid a worsening ammunition shortage and dogged Russian attacks in the east.

They heard from front-line troops and “thoroughly analyzed” the battlefield situation on their visit, Syrskyi said in a Telegram update. He did not specify where exactly he and Umerov went, but said that “the situation is difficult” for Ukrainian troops and “needs constant control” along many stretches of the front.

Ukraine has suffered setbacks on the battlefield, having lost the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka following intense battles this month, and as military aid for Kyiv hangs in the balance in the U.S. Congress.

Syrskyi earlier this month replaced Ukraine’s top military commander, Valerii Zaluzhny, in the most significant shakeup of the top brass since the start of the full-scale war, after a long-expected counteroffensive last summer failed to produce major breakthroughs. Russia still controls roughly a quarter of the country.

Russian shelling and rocket strikes on Sunday continued to pummel Ukraine’s south and east, as local Ukrainian officials reported that at least two civilians were killed and a further eight suffered wounds in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces.

A woman was wounded and a railway station turned into a smoldering ruin amid heavy shelling in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka, according to the head of the municipal military administration. Ukraine’s public broadcaster, Suspilne, cited local police as saying that the strikes also damaged an Orthodox church, over a dozen residential buildings and dozens of shops, a post office, schools and local government offices.

Russia and Ukraine also continued to trade nightly drone attacks, with Ukraine’s air defenses shooting down 16 of 18 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched overnight by Moscow. A Russian drone on Sunday morning struck an unspecified facility in Ukraine’s western Khmelnytskyi region, the regional military administration reported without giving details.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry on Sunday morning reported it had downed seven Ukrainian drones — four over the Black Sea and three over Russia’s southern Belgorod region. It did not immediately mention any casualties or damage.


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