A Russian merchant ship, which was under US sanctions, is said to have left Syria and crossed the Bosphorus Strait with weapons to continue the invasion of Ukraine. According to European officials, the ship, named Sparta II, is said to be carrying military vehicles with the aim of reinforcing the Russian invasion in Russia's effort to continue its search for military hardware.
According to officials, this trip demonstrates Moscow's desire to continue to obtain resources as the war enters its sixth month. While Ukraine has been systematically receiving billions of dollars in arms from the US, Russia has had to find its own resources to continue the invasion, while also seeking to strengthen its relations with allied countries such as Syria.
In fact, it is in this country where Putin has maintained troops since he ordered a military operation in 2015, in the context of the Syrian civil war, to support and reinforce the presence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the rebels, including the Free Syrian Army. In 2017, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu explained that the Russian military had tested more than 160 types of advanced weaponry in Syria, including fighter jets, tanks, electronic warfare methods, laser-guided missiles and air defence systems.
According to US intelligence, Russia has been using these merchant ships to transport military cargo to the Black Sea and has managed to accumulate large quantities of weaponry as part of a programme aimed at modernising Russia's arsenal over the past decade. However, despite its defence policies, US and European officials have revealed that Russia lost a significant number of tanks and armoured transport vehicles during its offensives, forcing the Kremlin to draw on its stockpile of older equipment, including T-62 tanks.
As with Russia, Ukraine has not disclosed the extent of its military losses. According to statements made by Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ukrainian battlefield casualties "have been reduced to about 30 a day" compared to 100-200 in May and June, a figure that has not been officially verified, but which demonstrates Ukraine's efforts to continue resisting a much larger enemy that it has not yet been able to defeat.