- Throughout the war, Russia repeatedly complained about the arming of Ukraine by Western countries.
- Putin and other senior Kremlin officials have warned that this could draw the West into direct conflict.
- Ukrainian advances, meanwhile, have seen it call for a mass transport of abandoned Russian weapons.
Throughout Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has lasted more than seven months with no immediate end in sight, Kyiv has received tons of military assistance from a number of Western countries, including billions of dollars in weapons and other aid from the United States. But Ukraine also receives a lot of weapons from the enemy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian government officials have long complained about the West and the decision to arm Ukraine. They made little effort to hide this frustration, even threatening an escalation and warning that the conflict could spread.
But as Ukrainian forces continue their weeks-long counteroffensive, advancing along the northeastern front of the war and into the south, retreating Russian troops have left behind mountains of weapons, equipment and of ammunition.
According to a new Wall Street Journal report citing open source intelligence, Ukraine’s recent capture of all these Russian weapons – in addition to what it obtained when Putin’s troops withdrew from areas near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the spring – has makes Russia the largest supplier of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
This observation is based solely on the quantities, as opposed to the quality of the weapons, the report states. Among the weapons left behind are tanks and other armor, artillery pieces and various firearms.
At the start of Ukraine’s lightning-fast offensive in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, Russian troops left behind so many guns and ammunition that the Ukrainian forces struggled to manage everything. Some Russians hastily abandoned their positions, leaving behind their guns and steal bicycles to get away.
—Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 11, 2022
In addition to what the Ukrainian troops have obtained by fleeing Russian units, they continue to be supplied by Western countries, much to the dismay of the Kremlin leaders.
As soon as January, before Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, as his troops gathered along the border, the Russian leader called on the United States and its allies and partners to stop arming Ukraine. During the spring, Russia has warned of “unforeseeable consequences” if the United States continues to supply arms to Ukraine. Above summerPutin has threatened to attack new targets in Ukraine if the West arms the Eastern European country with longer-range weapons.
Last month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the United States would be going through a “Red line” if he sent long-range missiles to Ukraine. And just this week, after the Biden administration announced a new $625 million military aid package for Kyiv, two Russian diplomats said this decision could bring Russia closer to a direct war with the West.
Senior Western officials and heads of state have shown no apparent signs that they will renounce arms deliveries to Ukraine.
“The United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons and equipment necessary to meet its urgent battlefield needs, while building Ukraine’s enduring strength to defend its long-term sovereignty,” said the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Laura Cooper told reporters during a Tuesday briefing.