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1 Thing May Decide Who Wins the Ukraine War

Artillery Fire
A battery of 105mm Light Artillery guns manned by 103 Regiment (V) Royal Artillery opens fire during a military pageant. The versatile 105mm light gun is used by the parachute and commando field artillery regiments of the British Army. The light gun can be towed by a medium-weight vehicle or carried around the battlefield underslung by a Chinook helicopter. Royal Artillery L118 light guns are fitted with an automatic pointing system (APS), which enables the gun to be unlimbered and in action in 30 seconds. APS is based on an inertial navigation system, operated via a touch screen, it replaces the traditional dial sight.

Civilians in America have spent nearly the last two years “hunting” for ammunition so that they can partake in various shooting sports and outdoor activities, and while some may have even felt that the lack of some calibers – not to mention the increasingly high prices – was bad, it fails to come close to what a lack of ammunition could mean for those in Ukraine. On the other side of the world, the lack of ammunition is far more serious, and as ordnance supplies dwindle, it isn’t clear how much longer some soldiers can keep up the fight.

In the battle for the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, it isn’t so much an issue of small arms calibers but of artillery shells that is the most serious of the issues. Earlier this month, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence explained to western media, “This is an artillery war now.”

The fighting in the Donbas has turned into an artillery slug match, a type of war not seen in such scale since that of the Western Front of the First World War. Whereas the Kremlin has failed in other efforts in Ukraine, the artillery war is one that Russia is slowly winning.

Skibitsky added, “We are losing in terms of artillery. Everything now depends on what [the west] gives us. Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.”

Soviet Ammo Shortfalls

As part of the former Soviet Union, it isn’t surprising that Ukraine – much like Russia of course – has continued to rely heavily on Soviet artillery weapons and hence the ammunition to go with it. At issue is that the Soviet-era ammunition that Kyiv had stockpiled is running low and many of those big guns are essentially useless without the rounds.

It isn’t as easy as simply sending more ammunition either, as U.S./NATO and Soviet-era artillery are different calibers and are not interchangeable or compatible.

NATO’s standard shells are 105mm and 155mm, whereas the Soviet Union and much of the Communist Bloc utilized 122-152mm shells. Though some former Warsaw Pact nations – many of which are now in NATO – have sent their stockpiles to Ukraine, Moscow has reportedly attempted to stall the efforts to keep Ukraine supplied with ammunition from other users of Soviet-era artillery.

In addition, Russia has been targeting Ukrainian ammunition depots to further weaken Kyiv on the battlefield.

The Ukrainian government is now appealing to its allies to aid it in replacing its aging artillery with weapons that can utilize NATO ammunition, which can be more easily replenished. However, those weapons – including the American-made M777 155mm howitzer and longer-range multiple-launch rocket systems including the HIMARS – are only slowly reaching the Ukrainians, and even then Kyiv’s warfighters still need to be trained to use them.

The slug match of artillery will continue, but only if Kyiv has the ammunition to fire its guns of June and July.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. Stefan Stackhouse

    June 28, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    The big problem is that the production capacity of the US and its allies just isn’t all that high. It was adequate enough to gradually build up inventories in advance for a big “come as you are” conflict that would not last long (either because of a quick win/loss, or because it escalated to nuclear). Our capacity isn’t at all adequate to crank out armaments in quantity on a sustained basis for a protracted war. That protracted war is now exactly what Ukraine is in. Of course they want more, more, more, and now, now, now. Unfortunately, once the US and its allies have drawn down their inventories as much as they dare, then manufacturing capacity will set a hard upper limit as to how much the Ukrainians can get, and when. It probably won’t be enough to turn things around and drive the Russians out, but it most likely will be enough to stop them and stabilize the front.

  2. Shane Mcclearen

    November 28, 2022 at 12:11 am

    This is my moragan free man comment

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