Lack of Ammunition and Perspectives: Ukraine’s Struggle for Attention, Support, and Peace

Ukraine finds itself in a challenging position as it grapples with a severe ammunition shortage, limited support, and a dwindling sense of hope in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

Lack of Ammunition and Perspectives

A year ago, Ukraine was in the spotlight at the Munich Security Conference, but this year it has to fight for attention. There is a lack of success, soldiers, ammunition – and support. Ukrainians no longer speak as often about victory. This was also noted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in one of his recent video addresses. The failed summer offensive by Ukraine had a negative impact on the mood in the country, Zelensky stated.

Among other things, he cited this as the reason for dismissing his commander-in-chief, Valeriy Salushny. A new military leadership is now supposed to solve the various problems of the Ukrainian army. However, the biggest problems cannot be solved by Ukraine alone. They lie in Brussels and Washington and are called Donald Trump and 155mm artillery ammunition. Ukraine must fight for attention

Already a year ago, the issue of ammunition production for Ukraine was discussed on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Even then, there was great incomprehension among experts. Even then, it was said that production capacity needed to be urgently expanded. However, security experts unanimously criticized the lack of political will. Since then, a year has passed. A year in which the EU announced one million artillery grenades but failed to deliver.

American military support has been stalled for months. In Washington, Ukraine has now become a subject of domestic political dispute. While the country was in the spotlight at the Munich Security Conference a year ago, today Ukraine has to fight more than ever for attention, money, and weapons. As a result, there is a severe ammunition shortage on the front lines.

Even for minimal defense, there is hardly any ammunition

Supporters of Ukraine in Europe are now calling to stop ammunition deliveries to third countries, to purchase additional ammunition from partner countries, and to prepare for the possibility that the US will no longer be a supporter in the future.

However, even if all the announced deliveries were to actually arrive, military expert Gustav Gressel and data analyst Marcus Welsch still expect an acute ammunition shortage in the first months of this year, even for “minimal defense,” reports the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.”

Ukraine is trying to address the shortage with FPV drones. However, experts are debating whether artillery fire can be replaced by these small, inexpensive drones. Meanwhile, soldiers on the front lines in eastern Ukraine are fighting against the Russian forces. They not only have limited supplies but also far fewer people available. For months, they have been publicly complaining about fatigue and requesting relief.

A sense of hopelessness is spreading

Meanwhile, some sense of normalcy has returned to Kyiv. Domestic politics have resumed, and there has been months-long debate about a new mobilization law. Its enactment is currently expected in April. Many men are afraid, and some are hiding. The days of long lines at the draft boards are a thing of the past. Exhaustion and a sense of hopelessness are spreading.

According to a survey from December, 19 percent of respondents are willing to cede territories if there is a real chance for peace. However, at the current time, such a chance does not exist. Ihor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, believes that Russia wants a ceasefire to replenish its resources. “Then they will continue their aggression against Ukraine,” the foreign policy expert is convinced.

“Nobody wants to fight until the last soldier”

Meanwhile, Christoph Heusgen, head of the Munich Security Conference and longtime advisor to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, publicly contemplates the need to end this war on German television. Heusgen suggests that something like the Minsk agreements will be the result, referring to two weak agreements from 2014 and 2015 that were never implemented and have been repeatedly violated by Russia. Will the West repeat its past mistakes?

“There will be no Minsk III. Never,” says Zhovkva. “Do you know how many negotiation rounds there were for the Minsk agreements? 185 rounds, which led us to where we are now.” However, according to Andriy Melnyk, the former emotional Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, “The agreements have given Ukraine time to become stronger. Nobody in Ukraine wants to fight this war until the last soldier,” said Melnyk to ntv at the beginning of the month.

“Lack of Strategy from Western Partners”

The pressure on Ukraine is increasing and Daria Kaleniuk is worried. Normally, Kaleniuk fights against corruption in Kyiv. However, for the past two years, she has been lobbying in the West for a Ukrainian victory. It’s a fight against windmills. Kaleniuk accuses Western partner countries of a lack of strategy.

“The Biden administration had no Plan B if Ukraine did not collapse within three days,” she says. “And now they have no plan either. Ukraine should not lose, but neither should Russia.” Kaleniuk believes that the German government follows the lead of its American partners and is too cautious.

Negotiations on Security Guarantees

Ahead of the Munich Security Conference, which begins on Friday, the Ukrainian president is expected to visit France and Germany, according to Bloomberg. Ukraine is currently negotiating security agreements with both countries. However, true protection can only be provided through NATO membership. “But before we achieve this goal, we need a system of security agreements,” says Zhovkva, who is negotiating the agreements with the G7 countries on behalf of Ukraine.

However, critics consider the already signed agreement with the UK to be weak. They say it does not provide real protection; it merely formalizes the scope of the existing support, which has repeatedly been deemed insufficient and too slow in recent years.

Fear of Negotiations

In order to prevent being forced to the negotiating table under massive pressure, Ukraine is relying on a peace summit scheduled to take place in Switzerland soon – for now, without Russia. “Russia violates every single point of the Ukrainian president’s peace formula,” says Zhovkva from the Ukrainian Presidential Administration. Therefore, pressure must be exerted on Russia together with the West and countries of the Global South. However, Russia is far from being internationally isolated.

Kaleniuk is afraid that Ukraine will lose the war and warns of increasing internal tensions among the population. However, the optimists in Kyiv and the Western capitals believe that Ukraine just needs to somehow survive this year. They do not specify how. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin openly admits that his goals in the war in Ukraine have not yet been achieved.