Russia complains about Western arms flowing into Ukraine, but Putin's troops are giving Kyiv far more heavy weaponry as they retreat
Throughout the war, Russia has repeatedly complained about Western countries arming Ukraine.
Putin and other top Kremlin officials have said this could drag the West into direct conflict.
Ukraine's advances, meanwhile, have yielded it a massive haul of abandoned Russian weaponry.
Throughout Russia's war in Ukraine, which has stretched over seven months with no 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 US. But Ukraine is also getting a lot of weapons from the enemy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian government officials have long complained about the West and its decision to arm Ukraine. They have made little attempt to hide this frustration, even threatening escalation and warning that the conflict could expand.
But as Ukrainian forces continue their weeks-long counteroffensive, advancing along the war's northeastern front and in the south, retreating Russian troops have left behind mountains of weaponry, equipment, and ammunition in their wake.
The Wall Street Journal, citing open-source intelligence, reported Wednesday that Ukraine's recent capture of all this Russian weaponry — in addition to what it obtained when Putin's troops retreated from areas near Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, in the spring — had turned Russia into Ukraine's biggest supplier of heavy weapons.
This observation is based purely on quantities, as opposed to the quality of the weapons, the report said. Among the weapons left behind are tanks and other armor, artillery pieces, and various firearms.
During the early days of Ukraine's lightning-fast offensive in its northeast Kharkiv region, Russian troops left behind so much weaponry and ammunition that Ukrainian forces struggled to handle it all, The Telegraph reported. Some Russians abandoned their positions in a hurry, leaving behind their rifles and stealing bicycles to get away, an unidentified Ukrainian soldier from an intelligence unit told The Telegraph.
—Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 11, 2022
On top of what Ukrainian troops have obtained from fleeing Russian units, they continue to be supplied by Western countries, much to the dismay of Kremlin leadership.
As early as January — before the invasion of Ukraine as Putin's troops gathered along the border — the Russian leader demanded the US, its allies, and its partners stop arming Ukraine. During the spring, Russia warned of "unpredictable consequences" if the US continued to deliver weapons to Ukraine. Over the summer, Putin threatened to attack new targets in Ukraine if the West armed the Eastern European country with longer-range weapons.
Last month, Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign-ministry spokesperson, said the US would cross a "red line" if it sent long-range missiles to Ukraine. After the Biden administration announced this week a $625 million military-aid package for Kyiv, two Russian diplomats said the move could bring Russia closer to a direct war with the West.
Top Western officials and heads of state have shown no signs that they will back off weapons deliveries to Ukraine.
"The United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons and equipment to meet its urgent needs on the battlefield, while also building Ukraine's enduring strength to defend its sovereignty over the long term," Laura Cooper, the US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, told reporters at a briefing Tuesday.
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