Friday, June 21, 2024

Ukraine fumes over a NATO nation’s weapons supplied: “Old, outdated, WWII type”

The Ukrainian military is disappointed over the quality of weapons sent to the country by Italy, citing its age and the lack of appropriate ammunition, Italian media have reported, citing a reporter embedded in the conflict zone.

Troops are said to be “disappointed” by the 120 mm Mod63 mortars sent by Rome this past summer.

“These are old, outdated models that were made in 1966, and the optics and aiming systems date back to 1947,” the reporter said, paraphrasing sentiments that had been conveyed to him. “They are much worse than their Soviet equivalents from WWII. Our unit got six of them, but the ammunition never arrived from Rome.”

Servicemen adapted the mortar systems, ordinarily designed to fire 30 kg grenades, to shoot 16 kg US and Polish-made rounds, resulting in reduced accuracy and range. “Today we are barely able to fire two rounds per minute that do not fly beyond 3-4 km, less than half of what we expected. We are trying to replace them with much more advanced Swedish mortars,” the reporter said, conveying the soldiers’ complaints.

The Ukrainians aren’t complaining about everything, Italian media say, with servicemen praising the Iveco Lince 4WD tactical vehicles sent by Rome, as well as the 155mm FH-70 towed howitzers. Ukraine also looks forward to receiving multiple rocket launch rocket (MLRS) systems promised by the Italians in the near future.

Italy has spent up to €452 million arming and equipping Ukraine’s military since February, with deliveries including Iveco heavy trucks, German-made Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers, Fiat pickup trucks, Stinger SAMs, Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons, heavy machine guns, small arms and MILAN anti-tank guided missiles, plus support equipment including med kits, body armor and rations.

In November, the right wing coalition government elected in September’s snap elections temporarily halted arms aid to Ukraine to do an accounting of domestic stocks. However, Rome issued a decree last week extending “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine” through December 31, 2023.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets repeatedly in recent weeks, demanding a halt to aid to Ukraine, and that the money instead be devoted to addressing the skyrocketing cost of living and the energy crises pummeling the nation.

Italy and other European countries are experiencing a major spike in inflation, food and energy costs, with nine in 10 Italians recently telling a pollster that they’ve been forced to cut spending to pay for necessities. Italy joined its EU partners in slapping restrictions on Russian gas supplies in the spring, and last month approved a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian crude oil alongside other G7 countries. Moscow has already vowed that it won’t adhere to any price caps, and warned that prices will go up.

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