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What Happens if Russia and Ukraine Run out of Ammo?

T-72B Attack in Ukraine. Image Credit. Twitter Screenshot.

The fighting on the ground in Ukraine continues as both sides are running low on critical ammunition. On day 384 of the war in Ukraine, the two sides are fighting a bitter fight with no end in sight, with most of the combat taking place around the town of Bakhmut

For the time being, the Ukrainian forces continue to defend parts of Bakhmut. The Russian advances of the previous days have largely stalled. 

Russian Ammunition Shortages in Ukraine War

In our conflict update yesterday, we covered the Ukrainian military’s ammunition woes.

To sustain its defense and upcoming large-scale offensive, the Ukrainian military is asking for hundreds of thousands of artillery shells every month. But Kyiv isn’t the only one with ammunition shortages.

On the opposite side of the conflict, Russia is also facing acute ammunition shortages. For months now, Moscow has been searching for ways to fuel its illegal invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned to Iran and pariah states, such as North Korea, for weapon systems and ammunition. 

The situation is becoming increasingly worse for a Russian military on the offensive. Indeed, in the past several weeks, the Russian military has had to impose shell rationing in many parts of the battlefield in order to ensure that the units that need ammunition the most have it. 

“This has almost certainly been a key reason why no Russian formation has recently been able to generate operationally significant offensive action,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in the latest estimate of the war.

The shortages in ammunition have created rifts within the Russian ranks, with the Russian military and Wagner Group mercenary group in a constant fight about the allocation of resources. 

To make matters worse, the Russian forces are “almost certainly” using old munition stocks that are unfit for use and thus dangerous to the crews, according to the British Military Intelligence. 

The Kremlin is trying to implement measures to ensure that the Russian defense industry can meet the demands of the Russian military. 

“Russia is increasingly applying the principles of a command economy to its military industrial complex because it recognises that its defence manufacturing capacity is a key vulnerability in the increasingly attritional ‘special military operation,’” the British Military Intelligence added. 

The Russian Casualties

But besides ammunition shortages, the Russian forces are suffering from manpower shortages due to the extremely heavy casualties that they are taking on the ground in Ukraine. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 160,540 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number)

Destroyed equipment includes: 304 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 289 attack and transport helicopters, 3,484 tanks, 2,519 artillery pieces, 6,789 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 493 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,367 vehicles and fuel tanks, 260 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,120 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 256 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 907 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses. 

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Expert Biography: 

A 19FortyFive 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.