WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian negotiator leading the now-stalled talks with Russian officials called on U.S. and NATO allies to quickly supply Kyiv with additional weapons, citing a lack of progress in brokering a peace treaty with Moscow.
“Once or two times a week we call each other and they kind of check and ask what’s going on, but both sides clearly realize that right now there is no place for negotiation,” explained David Arakhamia, the majority leader of Ukraine’s parliament and Kyiv’s top negotiator.
Arakhamia, who sat down with journalists at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C., to share updates from his discussions with Biden administration officials and lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that Ukraine simply needs more weapons and more sanctions levied against Russia.
“They stepped back and regrouped and now they’re fighting in a much different way. It’s a much smarter way I would say because the logistics are in place now,” Arakhamia said.
In the weeks following the Kremlin’s late-February invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces on the ground were beset with a slew of logistical problems on the battlefield, including reports of fuel and food shortages.
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Arakhamia added that Ukraine’s fight against Russia has shifted to a “distance fight” and will therefore require a consistent supply of long-range artillery, drones, jammers and radars in order to counter Russia’s colossal arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles and long-range rockets.
“There is no single region in Ukraine which is considered totally safe because they have missiles with the distance that allows them to shoot any target within the whole Ukraine,” Arakhamia added.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced another $1 billion in weapons for Ukraine, including anti-ship systems, artillery rockets and rounds for howitzers. Since the Kremlin’s invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24, the U.S. has committed $5.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
The latest security package, the 12th such installment, comes as Russian forces ramp up their attacks in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Heavy artillery platforms sit high on Ukrainian military wish lists. To date, the Pentagon has transferred 126 155 mm howitzer artillery systems from U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps stockpiles to Ukrainian forces. Along with the howitzers, the U.S. has also sent approximately 260,000 artillery rounds.
The Pentagon has also recently committed the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HMARS, manufactured by defense giant Lockheed Martin. The HMARS are designed to shoot a variety of missiles from a mobile 5-ton truck.
Arakhamia said that Ukrainian forces are rapidly running out of ammunition and artillery shells for the heavy artillery platforms supplied by the United States.
“A delivery of 150,000 shells which is considered a very big shipment is just one month of the war,” he said, adding “when the fights are intense, we could use up to half a million shells a month.”
Arakhamia said that following large shipments of ammunition and artillery rounds, some NATO allies are not ready to resupply and ship to Ukraine.
“They want to protect their own countries, which is understandable to us,” he said, referencing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to expand the war in Ukraine further into Europe.
“The world was not ready for a fight of this scale,” Arakhamia added.