For a moment in time, it looked as if reality had managed to finally carve its way through the dense fog of propaganda-driven misinformation that had dominated Western media coverage of Russia's "Special Military Operation" in Ukraine.
In a stunning admission, Oleksandr Danylyuk, a former senior adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Intelligence Services, noted that the optimism that existed in Ukraine following Russia's decision to terminate "Phase One" of the SMO (a major military feint toward Kiev), and begin "Phase Two" (the liberation of the Donbass), was no longer warranted. "The strategies and tactics of the Russians are completely different right now," Danylyuk noted. "They are being much more successful. They have more resources than us and they are not in a rush."
"There's much less space for optimism right now," Danylyuk concluded.
In short, Russia was winning.
Danylyuk's conclusions were not derived from some esoteric analysis drawn from Sun Tzu or Clausewitz, but rather basic military math. In a war that had become increasingly dominated by the role of artillery, Russia simply was able to bring to bear on the battlefield more firepower than Ukraine.
Ukraine started the current conflict with an artillery inventory that included 540 122mm self-propelled artillery guns, 200 towed 122mm howitzers, 200 122mm multiple-rocket launch systems, 53 152mm self-propelled guns, 310 towed 152mm howitzers, and 96 203mm self-propelled guns, for approximately 1,200 artillery and 200 MLRS systems.
For the past 100-plus days, Russia has been relentlessly targeting both Ukraine's artillery pieces and their associated ammunition storage facilities. By June 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed, that it had destroyed "521 installation of multiple launch rocket systems", and "1947 field artillery guns and mortars.
Even if the Russian numbers are inflated (as is usually the case when it comes to wartime battle damage assessments), the bottom line is that Ukraine has suffered significant losses among the very weapons systems artillery, which are needed most in countering the Russian invasion.
But even if Ukraine's arsenal of Soviet-era 122mm and 152mm artillery pieces were still combat-worthy, the reality is that, according to Danylyuk, Ukraine has almost completely run out of ammunition for these systems and the stocks of ammunition sourced from the former Soviet-bloc Eastern European countries that used the same family of weapons have been depleted.
Ukraine is left doling out what is left of its former Soviet ammunition while trying to absorb modern Western 155mm artillery systems, such as the Caesar self-propelled gun from France and the U.S.-made M777 howitzer.
But the reduced capability means that Ukraine is only able to fire some 4,000-to-5,000 artillery rounds per day, while Russia responds with more than 50,000. This 10-fold disparity in firepower has proven to be one of the most decisive factors when it comes to the war in Ukraine, enabling Russia to destroy Ukrainian defensive positions with minimal risk to its own ground forces.
This has led to a second level of military math imbalances - that being casualties.
Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, recently estimated that Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers a day on the frontlines with Russia, and another 500 or so wounded. These are unsustainable losses, brought on by the ongoing disparity in combat capability between Russia and Ukraine, symbolized, but not limited to, artillery.
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