MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it had dramatically increased production of ammunition and military equipment, as its offensive in Ukraine enters its eighteenth month. Russia expected to quickly overpower Ukraine's military when it launched full-scale hostilities last February but instead has faced down a grinding conflict and sanctions that have hindered its ability to refill inventories.

"Since the beginning of this year, many types of weapons and military equipments are being produced in quantities far above last year," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said. "In terms of munitions, we are reaching a level where deliveries in a month exceed last year's total orders," Manturov said. Limited stockpiles of ammunition have been a challenge for both sides in the Ukraine conflict, where the frontline is dominated by long-range artillery duels.

Russian Defense minister Sergei Shoigu said in May that his forces were dependent on the "timely replenishment" of ammo and hardware inventories, and urged a boost in production. Western sanctions have sought to hinder Moscow's ability to restock by banning exports of machine parts and electronic components that could be used on the battlefield.

But analysts say Russia has circumvented some sanctions by importing through third countries. Last week, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine was using from 5,000 to 10,000 of one type of shell daily. In July, the European Union sealed a plan to boost ammunition production in the bloc, as part of a push to arm Ukraine and restock depleted arsenals.- AFP