Ukraine Update 11 June, 2022: Artillery Shell Shortage Spells Trouble For Ukrainian Forces

After four months of heavy fighting, the Ukrainian military is facing shortages of ammunition for many of its Soviet-era weapons systems. With the war now focused in the eastern Ukraine and the fighting having become an artillery-driven war of attrition, the shortages are becoming more pronounced. The timing for this could not be worse. The flow of ammunition from Western nations has failed to keep up with demand and replenish Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition stockpiles. The United States and European nations are also shipping more accurate and mobile self-propelled artillery and multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine. However, it is taking a significant amount of time to deploy the weapons and train Ukrainian soldiers to employ them effective. In the meantime, Ukraine’s army relies on its older artillery, even as the ammunition for these guns diminishes to critical levels.

Russia is gaining an advantage on the battlefield because of the ammunition woes. Russian artillery batteries are firing at least three to four times as many rounds as their Ukrainian counterparts. To be fair, Russia has more artillery batteries than Ukraine, but the disparity in rounds fired has more to do with Ukrainian ammunition issues than anything else. Gunners are having to conserve shells more and more as the days pass.

It is a common problem in war and hardly one exclusive to the war in Ukraine. Pre-war calculations and estimates are no longer accurate once the balloon goes up. Rates of fire and use of ammunition dwarfs the pre-war figures. Logistics takes precedence as the race to resupply can often determine what side wins a war. We’re seeing this now in Eastern Ukraine. Some of the gains Russia has made on the battlefield in the last 36-48 hours were possible largely because Russia has far more artillery batteries and ammunition available.  

Ukraine Update 7 March, 2022 (Evening)

  • Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas has slowed efforts to sanction Russian energy and runs the risk of driving a wedge into the trans-Atlantic unified front that has performed impressively in sanctioning Russia and aiding Ukraine. Europe has been trying to wean itself off of Russian energy for years now, but progress have been at a snail’s pace and uncertain. Mostly because Europe has found it next to impossible to locate a replacement source for its blanket energy needs.  Today, the German government confirmed it will continue to buy Russian natural gas, oil and coal despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing mountain of sanctions on Moscow. In a statement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country and the remainder of Europe are too reliant on Russian energy imports for the continent to cut trade links, even in the short term. This is why Germany made it a point to exempt energy from the sanctions the West has placed on Russia. Natural gas, oil and coal from Russia are the lifeblood of German and European industrial output, heating and electricity output. If Russia chooses to put the screws to European energy exports, Western unity could splinter.
  • The Pentagon confirmed today something many of us in the fields of geopolitics and defense have noticed over the past few days. With progress slowing to a crawl on the ground, Russia is relying more on long-range fires. These include artillery, multiple-launch rocket fire, cruise missiles, and close air support, which is being used in an effort to weaken Ukrainian defensive positions and strong points of resistance. Other terms used are softening the enemy or preparing the battlefield. The good news is that the reliance on long-range fires signals that Russia is not ready to resume the pushes towards numerous Ukrainian cities and other objectives. The bad news is that at some point, the advances will commence again.
  • The number of Ukrainian refugees is now approaching 1.8 million at last count and the number is anticipated to exceed 2 million within the next 24 hours. Europe is on the verge of a major refugee crisis, the likes of which have not been seen in decades.

Ukraine Update 28 Februrary, 2022 (Afternoon)

Good afternoon!

-The negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian officials ended earlier today with no ceasefire or conflict resolution agreed upon. The prospects for a second round of talks seem to be gaining traction though. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released a short statement explaining. “Ukrainian and Russian delegations held the first round of negotiations in the area of the Ukraine-Belarus border in order to find common ground for the fastest ceasefire. The parties discussed in detail a number of key topics on which they have prospects for finding mutually acceptable decisions. A decision was made to immediately hold additional consultations in the capitals of the states. After that, the second round of negotiations of Ukrainian and Russian parties is to take place in the near future.”

Whether Zelenskiy is trying to sugarcoat the failure of today’s talks remains to be seen. But as the negotiations ended, explosions rocked Kiev. Earlier in the day, Russian forces launched heavy artillery and rocket strikes against the city of Kharkov. By all accounts, the fighting that took place there over the weekend did not involve elements of the main Russian effort from the east. The city appears to have been bypassed in the first days of the war and is just now receiving the attention of second-echelon forces.

-It would appear the city of Nikolayev (Mykolaiv) is preparing for a large force of Russian armor to arrive in the near future. This follows a weekend of probing attacks against Ukrainian cities arrayed on or near the Black Sea coastline. Put simply, the purpose of the weekend artillery attacks and probes was to force the defenders of these cities to keep their heads down as other Russian units maneuvered around them enroute to other objectives. Now it would appear that a concentrated assault is being prepared against Nikolayev as Russian forces seem ready to move decisively to capture Ukraine’s seacoast.

-Despite news reports to the contrary, US government officials claim there are no indications of a Belarussian mobilization currently underway. Their posture has remained unchanged and for the moment at least, it does not appear that Minsk is preparing to commit military forces to the war in Ukraine.

Amid the Global Pandemic, Kashmir Flares Up

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COVID-19 is affecting the Kashmir region just as it is practically everywhere else. The difference here is that Kashmir is already one of the most dangerous places on the planet, rife with religious, and national tensions. Actions over the last year, specifically the ambush of Indian security forces by Pakistani-backed militants and the subsequent clash between Indian and Pakistani military forces last February, as well as India’s move to incorporate its Kashmir territories into the greater union have heightened tensions even further.

Over this past weekend, the situation in Kashmir escalated once more when Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged artillery fire across the Line of Control. Civilian areas were apparently targeted by both armies, a violation of the 2003 ceasefire accord. There were civilian casualties on the Pakistani side of the LoC at least. The Pakistani military has accused India with violating the frontier repeatedly since last Friday. Flareups in Kashmir occur from time to time, but with the world’s attention presently focused on the pandemic, and both countries reeling from COVID-19 the chances of a major military confrontation rise considerably with each passing day.

In other conflict zones around the world, attempts to bring about ceasefires during the pandemic have met with some level of success. Syria, and Yemen have quieted down with the respective combatants now more focused on fighting the virus instead of each other. In Kashmir, however, it has been business as usual, so to speak.

Author’s Note: Short update today, apologies. I’ll post again tomorrow and then over the weekend. I hope everyone is staying safe, and sane. 😊 –Mike

Kashmir Crisis Update: 2 March, 2019

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A growing number of Western media outlets, particularly in the United States, are beginning to regard the latest Pakistan-Indian crisis as now beginning to ease. Pakistan’s release of the Indian pilot who’d been captured after ejecting over Pakistani-administered Kashmir territory is a step in the right direction. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s action has certainly defused immediate escalation, but danger still remains. Khan, and his counterpart in New Delhi Narendra Modi are not out of the woods. The possibility of this crisis worsening before it improves cannot be ruled out just yet.

Following the pilot’s release, hostilities in the vicinity of the Line of Control (LoC) broke out again. India and Pakistan targeted each other’s military posts and villages in close proximity to the border. Casualties were suffered on both sides of the LoC, including five civilians, and two Pakistani soldiers dead. Although tragic, exchanges of artillery fire like this are common and rarely enough to spark escalation. However, given what’s happening at the moment, it would be more productive for India, and Pakistan to refrain from taking any further military actions in Kashmir.

Pakistan and India are being urged to sit down and talk by a host of nations, NGOs, and supranational bodies around the world. Today, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted a resolution pushing the rival nations to resolve their issues ‘through peaceful means.’ Yesterday, Russia offered to act as a mediator between Islamabad and New Delhi to ease tensions. Pakistan was fast to accept the offer, yet it is unclear if India has even mulled it over.

Pakistan has reopened its airspace with heavy restrictions which are expected to remain in place until 4 March, 2019. This essentially means that most of Pakistani airspace will remain closed longer than expected, which will undoubtedly lead to further complications and delays for all air carriers in the region.