Russia has lost more than 400 artillery systems in the past two weeks, Kyiv’s military has said, as the importance of artillery for both Russian and Ukrainian forces in the east and south of the country shows no signs of fading.
Between September 8 and September 21, Moscow’s troops lost a total of 415 artillery systems in Ukraine, according to figures published in a daily update by the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
Artillery has always been a huge part of the war effort on both sides of the nearly 19- month-old conflict. Artillery has consistently featured high up on Ukraine’s wish list of military aid from Kyiv’s allies, such as the U.S.
“This is a massive artillery duel,” said Dan Rice, a former adviser to Ukraine’s top soldier, General Valery Zaluzhnyi, who is now the president of the American University Kyiv. Around 80 percent of the casualties on both sides of the front lines are down to artillery, he told Newsweek.
According to the Ukrainian General Staff’s figures, Russia has lost a total of 6,137 artillery systems since Moscow’s troops crossed over into Ukrainian territory to launch its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
On Wednesday, Moscow’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine’s military had lost 6,462 field artillery guns and mortars in the war so far.
Newsweek could not independently verify battlefield losses reports from either side. Russia’s Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian General Staff have been contacted for comment via email.
Artillery is proving crucial for Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive push, which Kyiv launched against Russian positions along the frontlines in eastern and southern Ukraine in early June.
“What they’re doing is an offensive operation, which is extraordinarily difficult, and to do that, you have to have fires and maneuver,” General Mark Milley, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a media briefing at the Ramstein air base in Germany on Tuesday.
Several million artillery rounds of various types, including 155mm and 105mm, have been sent to Ukraine, Milley said.
“They could not be executing the operation that they’re doing without those munitions. They just couldn’t do it,” he added.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts in recent weeks have focused on pushing back Russian forces close to the recently-reclaimed Zaporizhzhia town of Robotyne, in the south of the country. Earlier this month, Ukraine said it had broken through Russia’s first line of defenses around the town, and analysis has suggested slow gains on the way to the Russian-controlled city of Tokmak. Ukraine will likely look to move towards the Zaporizhzhia city of Melitopol, and on towards the Sea of Azov.
Ukrainian forces are working on offensive operations around Melitopol and around the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Thursday. Russia has controlled Bakhmut since May, but Ukraine has reclaimed two villages on the decimated city’s southern flank in the past week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday Ukraine had taken control of the Donetsk village of Klishchiivka, just days after Ukrainian officials said they had recaptured nearby Andriivka.
Russian forces “tried to recover” positions around Andriivka but “had no success,” the General Staff said on Thursday, after Russia said on Wednesday its forces had repelled Ukrainian attacks on Klishchiivka.