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Russia hits 2 million large-caliber munitions yearly; 500k shortfall covered by North Korea

First Belarus, then Iran, and now mainly North Korea have covered Russia’s ammunition shortfalls, according to Ukrainian intelligence

Russia has reached production of 2 million large-caliber shells annually but still depends on imports to cover a deficit of 500,000 rounds, with North Korea emerging as the main supplier, a top Ukrainian military intelligence official said.

“Russia fulfilled its 2023 defense order and achieved capacity for 2 million 122mm and 152mm artillery munitions per year,” said Major General Vadym Skibitskyi, deputy head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence, in the podcast (un)Safe country.

However, Russia had to tap foreign sources in 2023 to fill shortfalls, firstly Belarus, then Iran, and now mainly North Korea, Skibitskyi outlined.

“We essentially know from where, how, at which depots they were stored in Russia and how they were then delivered to the front. And it was precisely these supplies that allowed Russia’s defense ministry to almost fulfill its plan,” he remarked.

But further expanding production requires more effort on components like propellants, explosives, and detonators, entailing raw materials, experts, and equipment, he explained.

“Our assessment is that Russia will still face a 500,000 large-caliber ammunition deficit annually and will have to cover it from external sources,” Skibitskyi predicted.

On Ukraine’s munitions output, he said this hinges on Western partners. Increased shell production was raised at the third Ramstein meeting in June 2022.

“Over a year has passed, and we see Western defense industries are ramping up capabilities, but this doesn’t happen instantly, as we see with artillery systems, armor, and ammunition,” Skibitskyi concluded.

Currently, the EU is keeping optimistic about its pledge to provide 1 million shells to Ukraine by spring. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s needs can be estimated at around 590,000 a month.

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