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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Putin Can’t Artillery Strike His Way to Victory in Ukraine

TOS-1A
TOS-1A from the Russian Military.

War in Ukraine Update: The Russian military continues to face seemingly insurmountable challenges in Ukraine even after nearly six months of warfare. On day 175 day of the Russian invasion, the Russian military continued to put pressure on the Donbas.

Russian Casualties

The Russian military continues to suffer heavy casualties in Ukraine. The force generation issues that have been plaguing the Russian war machine are only precipitating the challenges created by the heavy losses Moscow has been suffering in the war.

Without a mass mobilization—which would present its own domestic political challenges—Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin simply can’t come up with enough men to put on the ground on the frontlines. The Russian military is particularly short on infantry, which it tries to compensate with devasting volleys of artillery fire. However, artillery can help win territory, but it can’t capture or hold it on its own.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 43,900 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 233 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 196 attack and transport helicopters, 1,880 tanks, 989 artillery pieces, 4,152 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 263 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,049 vehicles and fuel tanks, 136 anti-aircraft batteries, 790 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 92 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 190 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

The Vanished Russian Black Fleet 

A few months into the war, the Ukrainian military surprised Russia and the world by sinking the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

On April 14, Ukrainian forces launched two Neptune anti-ship missiles and sunk the guided-missile cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea. With a crew of over 500 men, the Moskva is one of the largest warships to be sunk in modern warfare.

Since that action, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been understandably risk averse. In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the challenges that the Russian Navy in general, and the Black Sea Fleet in particular, are facing in the war.

“The surface vessels of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet continue to pursue an extremely defensive posture, with patrols generally limited to waters within sight of the Crimean coast. This contrasts with heightened Russian naval activity in other seas, as is typical for this time of year,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

Russia

Russian Artillery Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

“The Black Sea Fleet continues to use long-range cruise missiles to support ground offensives but is currently struggling to exercise effective sea control. It has lost its flagship, MOSKVA; a significant portion of its naval aviation combat jets; & control of Snake Island,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.

“The Black Fleet’s currently limited effectiveness undermines Russia’s overall invasion strategy, in part because the amphibious threat to Odesa has now been largely neutralised. This means Ukraine can divert resources to press Russian ground forces elsewhere,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

M777

SYRIA – U.S. Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in northern Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, Mar. 24, 2017. The unit provided 24/7 support in all weather conditions to allow for troop movements, to include terrain denial and the subduing of enemy forces. More than 60 regional and international nations have joined together to enable partnered forces to defeat ISIS and restore stability and security. CJTF-OIR is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (Note: these are similar weapons to the ones being sent to Ukraine).

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.