The US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War says, “The dynamics of battlefield artillery usage in Ukraine reflect the fact that Russian forces are using artillery to offset their degraded offensive capabilities.”
Former “Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Security Minister” and current Vostok Battalion commander Alexander Khodakovsky reported that the Russian command has decided to stop the daily issue of ammunition to areas of the front where there are no active offensive operations almost entirely.
Khodakovsky noted that the artillery shortage on the frontline results in part from preparations for a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Khodakovsky’s statement indicates that the Russian command must prioritize artillery ammunition supplies rigorously due to shortages. The high demand for shells indicates that Russian forces are still heavily relying on artillery to offset key shortcomings in combat capability, including poor Russian targeting skills, insufficient ground assault capabilities, and inadequate availability of airpower in Ukraine.
Russian forces use heavy artillery barrages to flatten settlements before seizing them with ground attacks, offsetting the need to conduct effective infantry attacks or to conduct an airstrike using scarce precision munitions and putting airframes and pilots at risk of Ukrainian air defenses.
The Washington Post reported on April 8 that, by contrast, Ukrainian forces are using one-third as many shells as Russian forces and that Ukrainian forces are conserving shells by carefully prioritizing targets.
Ukrainian forces are more accurate in their targeting but also likely benefit from being on the defensive in most areas – offensive operations normally generate increased artillery requirements.
- Ammo shortages likely to hinder Russia’s ability to sustain offensive operations in 2023 – ISW
- Ukraine is running low on ammo, asks EU for 250,000 artillery shells a month
- Russia to struggle to keep pace of operations as it burns through its artillery ammo stocks – ISW
- Ukraine finally launches domestic ammunition production. How will this impact the war?