Russia Might Run Out Of Ammo, Armored Vehicles And Shells Unless North Korea Supplies Russia With Ammo

Ukrainian army troops enters the town of Trifonova in Kherson. Ukrainian troops are seen here with a captured Russian BTR-82 armored personnel carrier in Trifonova. Photo by Ukrainian MoD.

Russia will face an acute shortage of shells, artillery and armored vehicles by the end of 2022.

“Six months of war has led not only to colossal irreparable losses in manpower, but also to a huge waste of weapons and military equipment for Russia. Guided missiles are already very scarce; shells for artillery and armoured vehicles will be exhausted by the end of the year; and the state of military aviation precludes a full-scale air campaign.

Because of the sanctions, Russia cannot continue full-scale industrial weapons production and replenish its rapidly depleting stockpiles.”

According to the analysis by The Insider, during six months of aggression against Ukraine, Russia had to use at least 7 million shells, not including the losses at frontline storage sites that resulted from Ukrainian strikes.

“If the intensity of the war remains at its current level, Moscow will face a tangible shell shortage by the end of 2022 and will have to reduce its use of artillery to save munitions,” the article says.

The author also points out the problem of wear and tear of artillery barrels. While the guides on Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems have a long service life when properly maintained, the barrels of rifled artillery guns and tank guns wear out much faster.

As the author of the article writes, by the end of 2022, the wear and tear of the artillery will lead to a drastic reduction in its effectiveness.

Thus, the expected projectile shortage should coincide with the growing shortage of artillery pieces.

At the same time, “things are not going smoothly” with the production of artillery and ammunition.

“Being cut off from supplies of Western equipment, spare parts and materials and simultaneously limited in human capital and labour productivity, Russian artillery and ammunition manufacturers will inevitably face production cuts rather than stagnation in the foreseeable future,” the article says.

The Russian Federation is also facing a growing shortage of long-range missiles.

North Korea to supply ammo and shells

Earlier this month, Biden administration officials confirmed a declassified US intelligence assessment that North Korea was selling arms to Russia in violation of UN security council sanctions banning Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons.

The inventory reportedly included millions of artillery shells and rockets, as Moscow attempts to ease severe supply shortages in Ukraine worsened by US-led export controls and sanctions.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul and commentator on North Korean affairs, said the regime’s denial of arms sales should be treated with caution.

“North Korea prefers to keep its arms sales under the table, not only because such transactions can be affected by sanctions, but also because Pyongyang’s customers tend to be involved in other illicit behaviour as well,” he said.

“North Korean claims are not credible, especially as the Kim regime, like Putin’s Russia, tries to disseminate counter-narratives against US intelligence and international criticism.”

Experts believe North Korea could theoretically become a major source of small arms, artillery and other ammunition for Russia, since both have defence systems based on those developed during the Soviet era.

It is unlikely that Russian industry has the potential to substantially increase rocket production, due not only to the embargo on the supply of equipment and personnel restrictions but also to relatively low labour productivity.

Russia faces armored vehicle shortage

The Insider also mentions a possible shortage of armoured vehicles. “Even taking into account the delivery of relatively fresh, albeit not new, armoured vehicles from military units and storage depots, if the high intensity of hostilities is maintained, by the end of 2022 the lion’s share of them will have to be repaired. And this is presuming they are not destroyed,” according to the article.

The aviation situation “looks better at first glance”. Today, after accounting for losses and breakdowns, Russia can still keep about 400 combat aircraft of various types and about 360 helicopters near the borders, although not all of them are of the attack type.

“However, it turns out that Russia has not been able to conduct a full-scale air campaign since the start of the war, and now its capacity for such a campaign has only shrunk,” the article says.

The Russian military could see massive arms shortages before the end of the year as it continues its military occupation of Ukraine, international news outlets reported this week, posing additional problems for its military, which has struggled to maintain a foothold.

Latvian-based Insider reported Tuesday that recent sanctions on Russia and successful counteroffenses by Ukrainian troops have led to rapid declines in its stockpiles of artillery shells and armored vehicles, while its ability to conduct air strikes and fire guided missiles will likely be exhausted by year’s end.

With Russia’s inability to replenish arms and its current rate of fire, Insider estimated that the military should run out of weaponry by the end of the year, building onto a series of public missteps by the military that have included vehicle losses in the thousands and mounting casualties.

“Being cut off from the supply of Western equipment, spare parts and materials and at the same time limited in terms of human capital and labor productivity, Russian manufacturers of artillery and ammunition will inevitably face in the foreseeable future not so much stagnation as production cuts,” Insider reported.

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