The fog of war is thick, and propaganda makes it even more cloudy. The Ukrainian government is not immune. For example, the Ukrainian government says:
Ukraine has now almost run out of ammunition for the Soviet-era weapons systems that were the mainstay of its arsenal, and Eastern European countries that maintained the same systems have run out of surplus stocks to donate, Daniluk said. He said that Ukraine urgently needed to move to a larger and more complex Western system, but that they had only recently been introduced and were insufficient to meet Russia’s enormous firepower.
But the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense also says this:
To date, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with 150,155 mm artillery platforms. Ammunition stockpiles of this caliber are already 10% larger than the stockpiles of Soviet-type large-caliber ammunition that existed before 24 February 2022. In addition, these new charges are more efficient than their Soviet equivalents and therefore consume less.
So either Ukraine has more artillery shells than it did at the beginning of the war, or it has done “not enough”. Who is it?
Similarly, the Ukrainian government itself claims:
Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podolak said this week that 100 to 200 Ukrainian soldiers are being killed every day.
Arestovich estimated that the number of Ukrainian victims per day was more than “200 to 300, not less”, but the figures fluctuate.
The military adviser said that despite the deaths of some 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers, Russia’s losses have been even greater.
A few weeks ago, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky announced that this figure is 50-100. We have two separate presidential advisers here, ranging in number from 100 to 300. That is quite large. And they all say Russia’s numbers are even higher. However, every day the Ministry of Defense claims that between 100 and 250 Russians killed. Today there were only 100:
So, if Ukraine claims to have killed 100 Russians, and these deaths are higher than the deaths of Ukrainians – then the number of Ukrainian victims cannot be 100-300 or not, unless Ukraine causes Russia sooner than it does itself. But Ukraine insists Russia is suffering more casualties. So on this front, too, the Ukrainian claims are contradictory.
All this must be said, we do not know what the numbers are. It is now in Ukraine’s interest to exaggerate its death toll in order to create urgency between the Western Allies and arms transfers. Ukraine clearly believes that there was too much complacency and celebration after Russia’s humiliating withdrawal from Kiev and the Sumy region. This new stage is a lazy artillery, and Ukraine wants more, so it is stepping up rhetoric to encourage faster action among its allies.
But even there is a disconnection from its politicians, who cry out for doom and gloom:
He said that Ukraine urgently needed to move to a larger and more complex Western system, but that they had only recently been introduced and were insufficient to meet Russia’s enormous firepower.
And the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which is like “we have it”:
It should be noted, for example, that the Ministry of Defense has fulfilled the initial request of the armed forces for 155 mm of artillery units by 90%.
Either Ukraine receives what it demands or it does not get what it demands. I believe in soldiers before I believe in politicians. In any case, they clearly do not reconcile their statements and demands. And when they do, as in both requests for MLRS missile artillery, it is clear that yes, Ukraine desperately needs longer-range missile artillery.
The information war is part of the war. Information and its ability to change public opinion and perception may be more important than the M777 howitzer. This could be the difference between Germany, France and Italy, which decide they have done enough, and the urgency of supplying the heavy weapons that Ukraine needs to keep the line in Donbass and the difficult task of regaining its lost territory.
Someone in my last thread wondered what the general status of the war was, that we might be too optimistic here, especially given the stories in the media (like before), that Ukraine no longer has ammunition and is suffering unsustainable losses. So let’s look at the big picture
Today, June 12:
Almost six weeks ago, on May 2:
If you’re having a hard time seeing the change, it’s because you literally need to zoom in to see the change. Russia has a little more territory in the Donbass, measuring tens of kilometers ahead, and Ukraine has a little more territory around Kherson and Kharkov, including tens of kilometers.
So the whole hysteria about Russia, which will eventually occupy Severodonetsk, a strategically insignificant, ruined city at the far eastern end of Ukrainian territory, means nothing. This is literally a point on the wider map.
Russia is getting tired of trying to occupy this small corner of the territory, and it is the easiest job it will face in the near future. Behind Severodonetsk Lisičansk is protected by a higher land and river barrier. Meanwhile, all the leading Russian forces and their artillery are in the range of Ukrainian artillery, blowing up anything that moves.
Russia, on the other hand, has honed one of its winning strategies: to flatten the city, to send in some poor souls to see if protection is maintained. Is the probe smashed? Either well. Definitely absorbed! Turn the rubble into smaller rubble. Send the next probe. Blow, rinse, repeat until only dust and craters remain. Go to the next city. Like Dovhenke.
Zoom in on the right photo. This is shocking. (By the way, there is conflicting information about who is there Dovhenke. Both pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian Telegram sources had declared the city occupied on Friday-Saturday, but today the General Staff of Ukraine claimed it was still in their hands. How… how is anything else alive in this lunar landscape?)
Russia’s strategy of “bombing everything until nothing is left” is slow. Look, Dovhen’ke. It takes a lot of time and labor, which Russia cannot easily replace. And Ukraine estimates that Russia shoots 50-60 000 artillery shells each day. Assuming this is an exact figure (see the first half of this update), can Russia continue this pace indefinitely?
Ukraine has fewer weapons and they claim they shoot only 5-6 thousand rounds a day. But remember, as the Department of Defense points out, “these new shells are more efficient than their Soviet counterparts and therefore consume less.” Plus, you don’t need that many shells if you’re not busy destroying civilian infrastructure. The goals important when counting shells.
If anything in the West is a lot, it’s cheap artillery shells. Each costs $ 800 (compared to $ 130,000 for an excalibur-led artillery round). As a large number of Western artillery weapons still arrive in Ukraine, this and a steady supply of charges can be a great equalizer. MLRS and HIMARS missile artillery will make Russian life even more difficult.
One HIMARS / MLRS pipeline, well equipped with ammunition pots (a real challenge), can cover virtually the entire Donbass front line and beyond. Russia’s slow pace of progress will face even greater obstacles. And let us not forget that Russia has not had to deal with long supply lines in this Severodonetsk / Popasna rush. Russia has still not demonstrated its ability to maintain supply lines longer than a few tens of kilometers.
It would be time to really worry if Russia managed to occupy the twin fortresses of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Given that Russia is still struggling to subjugate Severodonetsk, which is much more open and isolated than these two cities, I am not worried about their capture in the near future.
But if Russia’s pace of progress is microscopic, it does not mean that Ukraine is in the best position to regain lost positions. Ukraine faces the same challenges as Russia: in the cautious counterattacks in the Kherson, Kharkiv and Izhum areas, the progress of Ukrainian troops is at the mercy of Russian artillery fire. Wide open and mostly flat terrain of the country (as well as the spread of unmanned aerial vehicles) is ill – suited for covert attacks. Russia, meanwhile, has been busy digging own fortifications around the main roads of Ukraine.
The biggest challenge will not be stopping Russia will reversing their existing benefits. And here the outcome of this war becomes foggy. Russia will not meet its own goals, but that does not mean that Ukraine will do the same.