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U.S. Senator Schumer Urges Support for Ukraine Amid Desperate Ammo Shortage

Ukrainian Drone Commander Strategizes from Eastern Front as U.S. Senators Visit Lviv

Pressure Mounts on Republican-Led House to Approve Aid Package

DONETSK REGION, Ukraine — As U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) led a congressional delegation to western Ukraine on Friday, a 31-year-old Ukrainian drone commander sat perched in a muddy foxhole in the country’s east, scanning his laptop screen for Russian targets.

Show of U.S. Support in Lviv as Aid Package Continues to Be Blocked

Schumer and four other U.S. senators were in the western city of Lviv to meet with military leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The meeting was a show of U.S. support as Republicans in Congress continue to block an aid package that would give Ukraine desperately needed military assistance as Russia’s invasion enters a third year.

Dwindling Aid: Senate Approved a Package Rejected by House Speaker

On Feb. 13, the Senate approved a $95 billion package that would commit $60 billion to Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) preemptively rejected the legislation and has refused to bring it up in the House.

Visit Aims to Increase Pressure on Republican-Led House

Schumer’s visit to Ukraine was intended to ramp up pressure on the Republican-led House to drop their resistance to the aid. Ukraine’s leaders insist they are already running out of ammunition, and further delays could help Russian troops seize more territory and potentially even lead to Ukraine’s defeat.

“Hipster” Battles Shell Shortage as Rations Limit Strikes

Denys, a reconnaissance drone operator who also goes by the call sign Hipster, said he is already feeling the pinch. He spoke on the condition that his last name not be used, in keeping with military rules.

High-Value Targets Identified, But Ammunition Shortage Impedes Strikes

Denys and his unit are responsible for identifying high-value targets, such as Russian equipment, artillery, and armored vehicles. Ukrainian artillery units then rely on that intelligence to launch precise strikes on those positions using U.S.-supplied ammunition, including 155mm shells.

Strategic Losses Due to Shortage of Ammunition

But in recent months, as U.S. aid faltered, the troops have been forced to ration those shells. Even if Denys and his team found scores of important targets, he said, the artillery unit would probably have to choose just one.

Senators Engage with Ukrainian Drone Commander Amidst Shell Shortage Concerns

After spending the day at Denys’s drone position on Friday, Washington Post reporters had wrapped up interviews with him and other soldiers in a nearby town when Schumer’s press secretary called for a previously planned phone interview with the senator. Told about the drone commander’s shell shortage and offered the chance to speak with Denys directly, Schumer agreed.

Schumer Voicing Concerns for Impending Danger, Urgency for Aid Package

Standing in a small cafe after dusk, Denys held the phone in his hand as the majority leader thanked him for his service.

“Let me say to you, we are so appreciative of the courage of you and so many of the other millions of Ukrainians who are fighting this battle for freedom,” Schumer told him. “We are behind you all the way.” Schumer added that in Lviv, Zelensky and military leaders told the visiting delegation about the shortage of 155mm shells.

Denys thanked him for U.S. support, saying that “currently as you mentioned, we are really experiencing a shortage of shells.”

“This puts us in a position where we have to carefully choose our targets,” he said. “And the price we pay for that is the life of our infantry, who are in the first line in trenches with shells and guns actually trying to stop Russians.”

Capture of Avdiivka: Ammunition Could Have Made a Difference

The senator also mentioned that a Ukrainian leader told him that adequate ammunition could have prevented Russia’s recent capture of Avdiivka, an eastern town that Russians seized last weekend after a Ukrainian retreat.

“That’s true,” Denys replied. “We have enough of committed people who are ready to put their lives in danger, but we can’t just waste our lives — we also need some means of support.”

Two years of war in Ukraine, seen through its leader’s biggest moments

“So we’re going to keep working until we get this aid done, Denys,” he said, adding, “Thank you for your bravery and your service, not just to Ukraine but to America and our values as well.”

Denys replied: “Thank you, sir. We hope that we will somehow be able to repay you for your help. At least with our experience.”

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