US veteran in Ukraine says Russia is the 'alpha predator on the battlefield' now because of ammo shortages

  • A US veteran has said Russia is the battlefield's "alpha predator" because of Ukraine's ammo shortages.

  • Ukraine could usually use artillery to let its infantry advance and take on Russia, he said.

  • But he said the shortages meant Ukraine couldn't do this, and it instead had to ration its ammo.

Ukraine's ammunition shortages are allowing Russia to be the "alpha predator on the battlefield," a US veteran fighting in Ukraine says.

The veteran, whose call sign is "Jackie," has been in Ukraine since 2022. As an assault instructor serving in the 3rd Assault Brigade, he said the ammunition shortages, which have worsened since US aid stalled, had given Russia a deep advantage.

Jackie said that because Ukraine didn't have enough artillery, Russia had "free rein." He said the Russians were "that alpha predator on the battlefield," adding: "They are able to mass the artillery fires directly onto our infantry and our armor."

Since the start of Russia's war, Ukraine has often been at a disadvantage in terms of weaponry, ammunition, and manpower, experts and Western intelligence say. Jackie said the Ukrainian troops fighting against Russia's invasion were used to fighting with less artillery than the Russians.

He said Ukraine had still often been able to beat Russia because of better tactics and training, a view taken by most observers to explain how Ukraine has been able to stop Russia from taking over the country and even take back some territory from Russia in the east despite having a much smaller military.

But Jackie said the shortages had been changing that dynamic. Ukraine has still had some victories despite its low supplies, but it's getting harder. Russia has been pushing forward.

Jackie said that before the shortages really began to hit hard, Ukraine had often used its artillery to suppress Russia's own artillery, allowing what he called Ukraine's superior infantry to dominate Russia's while being targeted less.

A Russian general last year even acknowledged that Ukraine was beating Russia in this type of fighting, counter-battery combat, and bloodying Russia's forces.

Jackie said: "When our guys do infantry-versus-infantry battle with the Russians, we crush them. We do it all the time, it's not special at this point."

"We need only suppress Russian artillery and armor," he said. "Once the fight is infantry to infantry, we win."

But he explained that shells and rockets had run so low that the tactic now couldn't be relied on consistently by Ukraine.

When Ukraine has enough ammunition, "we can just hold the Russian artillery at bay while we do very clever things and use our human capital and our intelligence to work at the zero line with our infantry," Jackie said, adding: "That's normal for us and we do a great job of it."

"But once our artillery goes to near zero, that tips the scale significantly on the Russian side," he said.

Jackie said Ukraine's troops had been keeping shells in reserve as much as possible, having to pass on some targets because they weren't considered enough of an immediate threat.

Shortages in Avdiivka

When fighting for the eastern town of Avdiivka earlier in the year, some of Jackie's crews would start days knowing they had zero rounds they could fire, he said.

He said that in the last week before Ukraine withdrew from the key town in February, "our artillery finally ran out."

two people, on in camo, both wearing helmets, walk on dirt road by destroyed 4-story building
Two Ukrainian soldiers walking through the destroyed city of Avdiivka, Ukraine, in October.Vlada Liberova / Libkos via Getty Images

The White House said Ukraine had to withdraw — giving Russia its first big victory in months — because of a lack of ammunition. It blamed "congressional inaction" for why Ukraine's soldiers had to ration supplies, with House Republicans stalling $60 billion worth of further aid to Ukraine.

Jackie agreed, saying a lack of ammunition was "absolutely" his assessment of why Ukraine had to pull out of the town.

His fellow troops fought there and helped with Ukraine's pullout. He said they kept a corridor open for Ukraine's troops to retreat down.

As an instructor, Jackie went close to the town but not into the hottest fighting, where his men went, and there collected his unit's testimony.

Jackie's brigade is still stationed in the area, and the problematic shortage is continuing.

Urging allies

European countries are still helping Ukraine, but many have said they don't have enough in their arsenals to give to Ukraine. And not enough new weaponry is being made, only exacerbating the problems.

New initiatives are underway to attempt to help bridge that gap, including a Czech Republic-led initiative to bring 1 million shells to Ukraine that were sourced outside Europe. The first are expected to arrive in June.

Jackie urged the US to keep supporting Ukraine, saying: "We're not screwing around. We're not spending expensive missiles to take out one guy or anything like that. We know we have to be economical with all this material, and we are being extremely precise and extremely economical with all this stuff. "

He said Ukraine was using the supplies it was getting extremely well, hurting Russia's army and taking out Russian aircraft and ships despite Ukraine having a much smaller air force and no warships.

"That's why all these jets are falling. That's why all these tanks are being destroyed. All these munitions are going straight at the Russian army, and it's working really well. How many ships have been sunk at this point?"

He said Ukrainians shared American values and were fighting for freedom, and supporting Ukraine was supporting a democracy — all reasons the US should not give up support, he said.

"We are not going to lose," he said. "That is not going to happen. It's not possible. We'll die before we lose."

Read the original article on Business Insider