Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ukraine running out of soldiers to fight Russian army: Report

The number and frequency of Ukrainian troops receiving training in US bases in Western Europe has dropped to almost zero in the last months, suggesting that Kiev is running out of men to fight Russian forces, US officials have told the Washington Post.

American instructors began training Ukrainian troops in April 2022, with drills taking place at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany. Some 3,100 Ukrainian soldiers had received US training by the end of 2022. The program was expanded in January 2023 to train 12 brigades in the runup to Kiev’s disastrous summer counteroffensive.

In addition to these 12 brigades, three brigades were trained by other European nations, while American instructors taught combined arms tactics to a tank battalion and two national guard battalions.

However, the last brigade trained in Germany left Grafenwoehr, the largest US ovcerseas training command, in January or February, anonymous officials told the Washington Post on Saturday. None have been trained in the months since, “suggesting a depletion of the personnel pipeline,” the newspaper paraphrased.

Ukraine’s manpower issues have been covered by Western news outlets since late last year, although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted in February that his forces had suffered only 31,000 fatalities in two years of fighting. American and Ukrainian officials know that this figure is a gross understatement, but admitted Zelensky must find a way to “inspire more Ukrainian men to come to the front lines,” one US source said.

“We see so many deaths and so many wounded,” a Ukrainian lawmaker stated.

“If they go, [troops] want to know how long they will be there.”

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukraine lost more than 160,000 troops during last summer’s counteroffensive, out of nearly half a million during the entire conflict to date. Zelensky’s former presidential adviser, Aleksey Arestovich, h as claimed that Ukraine ha s lost up to 300,000 men so far.

In December, Zelensky announced that his military had asked him to mobilize an additional 500,000 troops and embarked on a flurry of legislative activity in a bid to boost mobilization. After weeks of parliamentary debate, Zelensky signed two bills earlier this month, one of which lowers the age of conscription for men from 27 to 25, while another stiffens penalties for draft-dodging and denies some civil rights to service evaders.

Last week, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry banned all men between the ages of 18 and 60 from receiving or renewing documents, including passports, at consular offices outside the country unless they are properly registered for mobilization.

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