Russia lacks ammunition production needed for Ukraine war, Western officials say

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LONDON (Reuters) -Russia lacks sufficient domestic ammunition production to meet its needs in its war on Ukraine but President Vladimir Putin has not given up his hopes of subjugating the country, Western officials said on Wednesday.

Russia's military industry is also struggling with the impact of sanctions, the officials said, adding that the country's inability to access Western components was undermining its ability to produce new systems and repair old ones.

The Western officials' summary of the situation comes as the Ukraine war enters its third year, with Russia in the ascendancy after taking control of the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka and amid warnings that Ukraine is also running out of ammunition.

"We do not believe Russia has a meaningful plan beyond continuing to fight in the expectation that Russian manpower and equipment numbers will eventually tell," an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ukraine's shortages of supplies has come into focus with its reliance on Western support for money and equipment, especially with political wrangling in Washington holding up $61 billion in U.S. aid.

Artillery shells are in short supply, with experts and soldiers on the frontline estimating that Russia's artillery was now firing at five times the rate of Ukraine's.

However, the Western officials said Russia too was suffering problems as sanctions hit military production hard, causing delays and putting up costs, meaning it could not keep up with the war's demands.

A consequence was Moscow was requisitioning military equipment which had been intended for foreign allies, they said. Last March, the Indian Air Force said Russia had failed to deliver vital supplies it had committed to the Indian military because of the Ukraine war.

"Russia's domestic ammunition production capabilities are currently insufficient for meeting the needs of the Ukraine conflict," one official said.

Despite the problems, Putin's aims remained unchanged, the officials cautioned, saying they did not believe Russia had given up on it goals of subjugating Ukraine.

(Reporting by UK bureau; Editing by Gareth Jones, Alex Richardson and Angus MacSwan)