Losses of Russian troops during the capture of Avdiivka more than the pre-war population of the city

Russia’s five-month offensive to capture Avdiivka in the eastern Donestk region resulted in more Russian military casualties in the operation than the total population of the Ukrainian city before the war.

Ukrainian forces were recently ordered to withdraw from Avdiivka, reforming about 5-10 kilometers west in what Western officials described as a “measured” withdrawal. Instead, intelligence on the fighting shows that Ukrainian forces have been deprived of artillery support in recent days and weeks as ammunition supplies have run out after the US failed to continue its military contribution to Ukraine and Europe’s inability to intervene quickly to meet Ukraine’s needs.

However, the cost to Russia appears to be significant, with up to 10,000 military personnel killed and wounded every month since October 2023 in the Avdiivka offensive, with hundreds of armored vehicles also lost in the battle.

If these estimates are accurate, Russia suffered around 50,000 dead and wounded in its campaign to capture Avdiivka, a number far greater than the city’s pre-war population of around 31,000.

Avdiivka is now a deserted area, with virtually no structures damaged by five months of intense urban fighting and artillery bombardment.

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In the week marking two years since Russia’s large-scale invasion of its neighbour, combined military casualties on both sides are believed to have exceeded 500,000 in the bloodiest war to be seen on the European continent for generations.

Europe will supply 500,000 artillery shells to Ukraine in 2024

Meanwhile, it is understood that European pledges to deliver one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024 could be met, despite significant challenges, with a new target of 1.5 million shells by the end of the year. By November 2023, European countries had provided about 500,000 rounds of ammunition to Ukraine.

European industry has also sought to allow the manufacture of artillery ammunition in the country for Ukraine, with German defense company Rheinmetall recently signing an agreement.

In November 2023, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the countries of the European Union will produce one million artillery shells a year from 2024, as the continent’s defense industries are oriented to more active production lines in the face of the aggression of of Russia. in Ukraine.

It is uncertain that these efforts will be enough to secure Ukraine’s current front lines, and they almost certainly will not provide enough reserves to allow a Ukrainian offensive later in 2024. With the defensive lines now figuratively and literally entrenched, overwhelming artillery power will be a necessary condition for Ukraine or Russia to achieve significant gains within the next year.

Ukrainian AS90
155mm artillery rounds are stacked behind an array of AS90s donated by the UK and their Ukrainian operators. However, most of Ukraine’s artillery is of Russian origin. Credit: UK MoD/Crown copyright

Continued US intransigence on approving a military aid package for Ukraine that relies on foreign support to allow the fight against Russia to continue has shifted expectations for 2024, a year of attrition on Ukraine’s battlefields .

By December 2023, the US alone had provided two million rounds of 155mm ammunition, 800,000 105mm shells, 10,000 203mm projectiles, 200,000 152mm rounds, 40,000 130mm rounds. and 4000 1.0mm shells. rockets and more than 400,000 mortar rounds of 60-120mm caliber, according to figures from the Ministry of Defence.

This corresponds to more than 3.5 million rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition given to Ukraine from February 2022 to December 2023. For small arms and machine guns, the US provided over 400 million rounds to Ukraine.

According to a January 2023 analysis by Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ukraine had amassed a stockpile of about 1,600 artillery pieces after Russia invaded in 2022, consisting of about 1,150 Soviet-era 152 mm and 122mm howitzers. more than 424 artillery received from allies, mainly USA, UK and other European countries.

An important factor to consider is that Ukraine’s predominant use of Soviet or Russian-designed artillery means that the availability of compatible ammunition on the international market is reduced, with Russia, China and others unwilling to sell to the US or European countries for support. of Ukraine’s war effort.

Even among countries willing to sell 155mm artillery ammunition and other stockpile to NATO allies, a significant price would have been extracted to seal any deal.

Read the original at Defence247.gr

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