WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (Reuters) – Russia is turning to decades-old munitions with high failure rates as it burns through its stockpiles to carry out its nearly 10-month-old invasion of Ukraine, a senior US military official said Monday.
“They have used (Russia’s) obsolete ammunition supply, indicating their willingness to use those older ammunition, some of which were originally produced more than 40 years ago,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The United States accuses Russia of turning to Iran and North Korea for more firepower as it runs out of its regular ammunition supply.
The senior US military official ruled that Russia would burn out its fully serviceable ammunition stockpiles by early 2023 if it did not resort to foreign suppliers and older supplies.
“We are assessing that with the rate of fire, Russia has used its artillery and rocket munitions in terms of what we would call fully serviceable artillery and rocket munitions. They could probably do that through early 2023,” the official said.
Using the older files carried risks, the official said.
“In other words, you load the ammunition and you cross your fingers and hope it’s going to fire or when it lands it’s going to explode,” the official said.
Iran has transferred drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, US and Ukrainian officials say. Moscow is also seeking to obtain hundreds of ballistic missiles from Iran and in return provide Tehran with an unprecedented level of military and technical support, Britain’s envoy to the United Nations said on Friday.
Barbara Woodward also said Britain was “almost certain Russia wants to source arms from North Korea (and) other heavily sanctioned states as their own supplies are clearly dwindling”.
Iran acknowledged last month that it had supplied Moscow with drones, but said they were sent for the war in Ukraine. Russia has denied that its forces used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine and has denied that North Korea supplied it with weapons.
Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Edited by David Gregorio
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