The Russian military is growing increasingly desperate in Ukraine, resulting in using obsolete weapon systems to achieve some of the objectives set by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On day 404 of the conflict, Ukraine is winning the long war.
Russian Materiel Attrition
The Russian military and Wagner Group private military company continue to suffer heavy casualties on the ground in Ukraine.
With every passing day, the Russian forces suffer additional attrition, further jeopardizing their potential for effective large-scale offensive and defensive operations.
In addition to losing trained men, Russian forces suffer heavy losses in weapon systems. This is forcing the Russian Ministry of Defense to take out of storage obsolete weapon systems, such as the T-54/55 and T-62 main battle tanks. These systems, however, aren’t survivable on a modern battlefield in which the adversary has highly effective anti-tank munitions, such as the FGM-148 Javelin and Next Generation Light-Tank Weapon (NLAW).
Moscow, however, could be trying to attrite the Ukrainian arsenal through the use of obsolete weapon systems. The rationale would be that the Russian military would “win” by sacrificing a T-54/55 tank designed during World War Two for a Javelin anti-tank weapon, which can cost more than $170,000. But if that is the Kremlin’s logic, it isn’t very sound.
“Russian forces are unlikely to achieve preferable resource attrition rates on the grounds that T-54/55 are cheaper than anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) ammunition,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in a recent operational update on the war.
“Each tank loss is the loss of a tank crew as well as the tank, after all, and it is not clear how effective these tanks will be against Ukrainian armored vehicles, whereas they are highly vulnerable to many anti-tank systems available to Ukraine, not all of which are expensive,” the D.C.-based think tank added.
Moscow is using panic moves that might make sense to a desperate Russian military leadership but won’t translate into success on the ground in Ukraine.
A Different Story
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military continues to be strengthened with further deliveries of weapon systems from the West.
After the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2 main battle tanks have begun arriving in Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces are set to soon receive the first AS90 155mm self-propelled howitzers from the United Kingdom. The second batch of Ukrainian troops slated to operate the system has arrived in the U.K. to undergo training.
Similar to the American M109 155mm and German PzH 2000 155mm self-propelled howitzers that Ukraine already operates, the AS90 will provide an excellent and flexible artillery option to the Ukrainian military.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 175,160 Russian troops.
Destroyed equipment includes: 306 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 291 attack and transport helicopters, 3,619 tanks, 2,694 artillery pieces, 6,993 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 527 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,553 vehicles and fuel tanks, 280 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,262 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 298 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 911 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.