Russia is facing a munitions shortage in its invasion of Ukraine, according to the British defense ministry.
The ministry said in an intelligence update Saturday that, “Despite the easing of its immediate personnel shortages, a shortage of munitions highly likely remains the key limiting factor on Russian offensive operations.”
“Russia has likely limited its long-range missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure to around once a week due to the limited availability of cruise missiles,” the ministry said. “Similarly, Russia is unlikely to have increased its stockpile of artillery munitions enough to enable large-scale offensive operations.”
The British defense ministry said the munitions shortage made Russia vulnerable. “A vulnerability of Russia’s current operational design is that even just sustaining defensive operations along its lengthy front line requires a significant daily expenditure of shells and rockets.”
The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine. The measure, part of a $1.66 trillion government funding bill that passed the Senate a day earlier, will now go to U.S. President Joe Biden for signing into law. This package follows U.S. aid worth about $50 billion sent to Ukraine previously this year.
The move comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s wartime visit to Washington this week.
Upon his return to Kyiv, Zelenskyy defiantly said that Ukrainian forces “are working toward victory” despite Russia’s relentless artillery, rocket and mortar fire and airstrikes on Ukraine.
Zelenskyy pledged on Telegram, “We will overcome everything.” He also said, “We are coming back from Washington with … something that will really help.”
The U.S. promised Patriot missiles to help Ukraine fight against the Russian invasion. Zelenskyy has long asked for Patriot missiles to help counter Russian airstrikes, which have destroyed cities, towns and villages during 10 months of conflict and knocked out power and water supplies across the country over the past three months.
Zelenskyy thanked Biden and the U.S. Congress for supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
U.S. officials say, however, that the single Patriot battery that Biden promised to supply to Ukraine will not change the course of the war.
Washington and its allies have been unwilling to supply Kyiv with modern battle tanks and long-range missiles called ATACMS, which can reach far behind front lines and into Russia itself.
Both Kyiv and the Biden administration are wary that retaining U.S. congressional support for aid could become more complicated once Republicans take a slim majority in the House in the new year: A few right-wing Republicans oppose aid, and other lawmakers have called for tighter budget oversight.
During a Friday visit to Tula, Russia, a center for arms manufacturing, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the country’s defense industry chiefs to do more to ensure that the Russian army quickly receive all the weapons, equipment and military hardware it needs to fight in Ukraine.
“The most important key task of our military-industrial complex is to provide our units and front-line forces with everything they need: weapons, equipment, ammunition and gear in the necessary quantities and of the right quality in the shortest possible time frames,” he said.
Eastern Europe Bureau Chief Myroslava Gongadze contributed to this report. Some material for this article came from The Associated Press and Reuters.