Needy Ukrainian reserve units could be armed with pre-WWII DP-27 machine guns

The continued use of weapons like the DP-27 and M1910 in Ukraine is at least partly due to the ammunition they use. The first versions of the 7.62x54mmR cartridge were produced at the end of the 19th century and it is the oldest basic cartridge design still widely used in the world, including Russia. As long as these old machine guns remain functional, there is a ready supply of ammunition for them.

Beyond that, for Territorial Defense Forces, any functional machine gun could well be a welcome addition to unit arsenals. At least in December, the Ukrainian army was not distributing weapons from its own stocks to these volunteer units, many of whom conducted their training exercises once a week with cardboard cutouts of weapons rather than real ones.

Ukrainian authorities have allowed members of these units to use weapons they acquire themselves, but this can be an expensive proposition and one would imagine that civilian arms dealers in Ukraine are not necessarily stocked with small arms . So far, footage of Ukrainian Territorial Defense units has shown individuals training with a variety of “assault” type rifles, including AK and AR-15/M16 type rifles, bolt-action rifles and pistols.

There seems to be little doubt about the sense of patriotism among the thousands of average Ukrainians who have now signed up to become members of the country’s Territorial Defense Forces. In December, Ukrainian authorities notably released a military recruitment video, visible in the Tweet below, which highlighted the contributions of ordinary citizens to the defense of the country.

At the same time, the formation of the DP-27 and the lack of weapons in general, among other things, can only call into question the usefulness of either of these units, even as forces of localized guerrillas, facing a new large-scale conventional Russian incursion. Ukrainian officials have recently sought to downplay those concerns, but the US government and a number of its allies continue to report worrying signs that the Kremlin is at least keeping the option of military action wide open.

“I have no idea if he is [Russian President Vladimir Putin] made the ultimate decision, but we certainly see any signs that he may use military force one day [between] now and mid-February,” US Undersecretary Wendy Sherman said at the European Strategy Forum in Yalta today. She added that the US government was “still pushing for diplomacy” to defuse the situation, but US authorities were preparing responses to “all kinds of scenarios”, ranging from “full invasion” to “hybrid attacks or subversion or sabotage or coercion”.

All in all, the situation remains very fluid and it remains to be seen how the Ukrainian volunteer battalions of the Territorial Defense Forces, partly armed with DP-27s or not, could be employed in the event of a new Russian military intervention.

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