NATO member Denmark has pledged its “entire artillery” stocks to Ukraine

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (right) with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, on September 6, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Denmark has pledged its "entire artillery" stocks to Kyiv, the country's leader has said. Yan Dobronosov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

Denmark has pledged its “entire artillery” stocks to Ukraine, the country’s leader has said, as Kyiv issued renewed pleas for all-important military aid in the face of Russian gains in the east of the country.

“They are asking us for ammunition now, artillery now,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, said during the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “From the Danish side, we decided to donate our entire artillery.”

Artillery has dominated the nearly two years of war between Russia and Ukraine, but Kyiv has depleted its ammunition stockpiles and fires far fewer rounds than Russia each day. It has been firing around a fifth of the shells Moscow’s artillery batteries have been burning through.

Artillery and its associated ammunition have featured high on Ukraine’s wish list of aid from its Western backers. Analysts and Ukrainian officials have suggested the shortages have constrained Kyiv’s plans for its operations along the front lines.

But sending shells has depleted NATO stockpiles, and nations within the alliance have committed to upping ammunition production.

In January, the alliance said it had inked a contract worth $1.2 billion to produce artillery rounds, refilling NATO states’ stockpiles while maintaining the flow of aid to Ukraine. The alliance is planning on buying around 220,000 155mm artillery shells, a high-demand ammunition.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army said it was hoping to dramatically increase its output of 155mm shells, allowing the U.S. military to “restock ourselves and also restock our allies.”

“There is still ammunition in stock in Europe,” Frederiksen said. “This is not only a question about production, because we have weapons, we have ammunition, we have air defense [systems] that we don’t have to use ourself at the moment, that we should deliver to Ukraine.”

Kyiv’s presidential office said on Saturday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had met with Frederiksen, and thanked the Danish leader for the more than dozen packages of defense assistance Copenhagen had committed to the embattled nation.

The two leaders “paid special attention to further defense support for our country, bilateral cooperation and cooperation with other countries to provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons,” Kyiv said.

“Ukraine needs ammunition and the necessary equipment to defend its freedom,” Czech President Petr Pavel added during the Munich conference. “We must encourage investment in the European defense industry and increase its capacity,” he said.

Zelensky, also in Munich, said Ukrainian operations were only limited by its access to weaponry and ammunition.

“Keeping Ukraine in an artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war,” Zelensky said in an address.

On Saturday, Ukraine said its forces were pulling back from the decimated front-line city of Avdiivka after more than four months of bitter fighting. Russia launched its offensive on Avdiivka in October, and it quickly became one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

The city spent a decade on the front lines of fighting in Ukraine, and Kyiv had built up its defenses ahead of the outbreak of all-out war in February 2022. But Russia had slowly gained territory around the Donetsk settlement, albeit at a high cost to its soldiers and its supplies of military equipment.

Ukraine’s army chief, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Saturday that Kyiv’s forces had retreated from Avdiivka to “avoid encirclement” and save the lives of its fighters.

“Our soldiers honorably fulfilled their military duty, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units, [and] inflicted significant losses on the enemy in manpower and equipment,” Syrskyi said in a statement.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that “isolated formations” of Ukrainian soldiers had managed to leave Avdiivka. Moscow’s forces are attempting to “clear the city” and the settlement’s northeast coking plant, the Kremlin said.

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