The Withdrawal of Ukraine Illustrates Lack of Artillery for Fighting Russia

Russian artillery is relentlessly attacking Ukraine’s 620-mile front line, posing a threat to the country’s grip due to running out of ammunition. There is danger to the defensive lines.
After four months of daily Russian attacks from three angles, Ukrainian soldiers retreated from the Donetsk area city of Avdiivka on Saturday.
Avdiivka served as a bastion for Ukrainian forces stationed further within, apart from Russia. Since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the city has been on the front lines. Its well-defended, network of tunnels and trenches protected vital, weaker logistical hubs located further west.

To the dismay of Ukrainian forces who have only made small progress since their counteroffensive last year, its seizure raises Russian morale and verifies that troops under the Kremlin are now driving the fight.
The Biden administration blamed Congress’s procrastination on providing $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine for the death of Avdiivka.
Following Ukraine’s announcement of its troop withdrawal from Avdiivka, President Joe Biden said he spoke with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the phone on Saturday and expressed his continued confidence that U.S. funds will finally materialize. However, in response to a question from reporters about whether he was certain a solution could be reached before Ukraine lost further territory, Biden said, “I’m not.”

In the weeks preceding Avdiivka’s fall, the Associated Press conducted interviews with more than a dozen commanders in the war’s most severe combat zones, including heads of artillery units. They claimed that last October, shortages—which have dogged Ukrainian forces ever since the full-scale invasion—became severe.

The Ukrainian forces are impeded from striking high-value targets located far behind Russian lines, where heavy equipment and soldiers are gathered, due to the diminishing supply of long-range artillery supplied by the West.

The frontline Ukrainian forces have been complaining for weeks about severe ammunition shortages; certain artillery batteries are only able to combat with ten percent of their required supplies. Military officials, desperate to save shells, instructed units to shoot solely at certain targets. However, ground commanders claim that this is hardly sufficient to contain their superior munitions opponent. There is increasing fear that other frontline areas could experience a replay of Avdiivka’s collapse in the absence of military support.

Following the departure of Ukrainian soldiers from the strongly guarded town, Russia achieved its greatest win since the Battle of Bakhmut earlier this year. It will enable the troops of the Kremlin to advance their onslaught over weaker areas and farther west, into Ukrainian-held territory. According to military bloggers, the next target for Russia might be Pokrovsk, a railway junction located further east.

War blogs and Russian military authorities said that the threat to the Russian-held city of Donetsk had decreased with the capture of Avdiivka.

“At the moment, there is a significant ammo shortage. “We don’t see more coming, even though we are always told there will be more,” said Khorobryi, the commander of an artillery battery. He stated that only 5–10% of the required ammunition is in their battery.

He claimed that doing so deprives forces of their capacity to successfully attack and retake territory. Worse, because it is unable to provide infantry covering fire, Ukraine loses fighters.

For security considerations, he and the other policemen who were interviewed for this story agreed to have just their first names used.

“We don’t have anything to defend our front lines with,” declared Valerie, the commander of a howitzer platoon that fires NATO-specified 155 mm rounds. He indicated they needed 100-120 shells per unit each day to stop a Russian attack. He stated that they only have a tenth of that now.

According to Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Avdiivka, Russia changed its strategy prior to the city’s collapse in order to take advantage of severe ammunition shortages.

Moscow’s forces started sending waves of smaller infantry groups to attack Ukrainian soldiers in close quarters, rather than sending columns of armored vehicles. This meant that in order to repel them, Ukrainian forces needed to expedite “five times” as much ammunition.

According to 110th Brigade soldier Chaklun, “the enemy also knows and feels our capabilities, and with that, they manage to succeed.”

Many are worried about how the lack of ammunition would affect Ukrainian forces in other areas of the front line. In the northeast of Ukraine, the Kupiansk line is brittle. For months, Russia has been stepping up its attacks in that direction in an attempt to retake the crucial logistics center that it lost in the fall of 2022.

According to Yuri, the commander of the 44th Brigade in Kupiansk, his airborne reconnaissance units are able to identify a number of long-range targets, such as Russian mortars and grenade launchers, but are unable to destroy them due to a shortage of ammunition.

Rather, he is forced to observe from a distance as his adversary builds up reserves.

According to Oleksandr, the battalion commander of the 32nd Brigade in Kupiansk, he currently has just the right amount of shells.

“However, it relies on how strong the Russian side is. It won’t be sufficient to hold this line if they raise it,” he remarked.

All rights reserved. Associated Press, 2024. All rights reserved. Without permission, this material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

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