Fighting in Ukraine has been intensifying over the last couple of weeks and it has led to significant losses of Russian artillery systems according to the Ukrainian General Staff.
Russian forces lost 69 artillery systems over the course of three days between May 13th and May 15th based on Russia’s total daily combat losses claimed by the General Staff.
May 13th was one of the single worst days for artillery losses Russia has had since the start of the war with the Ukrainian General Staff quoting the destruction of 27 systems.
The following two days both saw the destruction of 21 artillery systems, which brought the total number of Russian losses in the war to 3137 different pieces of artillery equipment.
While the numbers provided by Ukraine’s General Staff have not been independently verified, they do provide some interesting insight into the pace of the conflict at present.
On May 11th, Kyiv Post reporter Stefan Korshak pointed out that the number of artillery systems destroyed by Ukraine had seen a marked increase in the previous two weeks.
Between April 28th and May 11th, the Ukrainian Armed Forces destroyed 166 mortars, howitzers, and cannon artillery systems while in the same two-week period one month earlier the Ukrainian Armed Forces only destroyed 108 systems according to Korshak.
The increase in destroyed artillery climbed by 65% according to Korshak, who hinted in his reporting that such a large jump in destruction could indicate that Ukrainian forces were laying the groundwork for its long-awaited spring counter-offensive.
While the increase wasn’t a sure sign that the Ukrainian counter-offensive is imminent, it did reveal again just how important this technology has been for both sides in the war.
“The war in Ukraine has become an artillery war,” the Center of Strategic International & Studies’ Mark Cancian and James Anderson wrote in a January article on how artillery systems had come to dominate the battlefields in Ukraine.
“Stable front lines, increasingly effective kill chains, and reduced scope for air power have created an environment where ground firepower trumps maneuver, at least for the moment,” the military researchers wrote.
Cancian and Anderson argued that while the High Mobility Rocket Systems and Javelin anti-tank missiles had come to dominate news headlines, it was still modern artillery that ruled the battlefield based on “the intensity of its use.” And they weren’t wrong.
According to figures reported by The Hill in April, Ukraine was firing 6000 shells per day on average in August 2022, a number which dropped to 5000 in the fall and then just 3000 by November whereas Russia was firing 25,000 to 30,000 from April to August 2022.
“The big-picture story on artillery usage over the past 14 months goes something like this. Russia has used far more artillery than Ukraine, but both sides have used a lot,” wrote journalists from The Hill.
The Hill noted that Ukraine’s dwindling daily average artillery usage was probably done to help conserve the country’s firepower for the counter-offensive, which if true, would show just how important the Ukrainian high command believes artillery will be to their success.
It’s too early to tell now if the increased number of Russian artillery systems being destroyed is linked to the start of Ukraine’s counter-offensive. But it does seem like the pressure isn’t letting up. On May 16th the Ukrainian General Staff claimed it destroyed another 13 artillery systems while 16 systems were destroyed on May 17th.
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