The Artillery and Tank War the West Never Thought Would Happen
By: Eric Wang
While many focus on the viral videos of Russian tank turrets flying off to space, many don’t notice the other big player in the 2022 Invasion of Ukraine: artillery.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, European countries agreed to a “peace dividend” and rapidly shrunk their militaries. Western nations expected that artillery divisions would never be used in a war again. However, artillery is now a major player in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and the West’s small and shrunk stockpiles are struggling to keep up with demand.
Although artillery was used in the Afghanistan war, the scales are nothing like how artillery is being used in Ukraine. In Afghanistan, NATO used around 300 artillery shells a day and didn’t have to worry about air defense. In Ukraine, thousands of shells are fired every day, and Ukraine is still desperate for air defense.
Last summer in Donbas, the Ukrainians were firing six of seven thousand daily rounds. The Russians were firing almost 50,000 rounds a day.
Defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Camille Grand, remarks “A day in Ukraine is a month or more in Afghanistan.”
In the meantime, the West is trying to come up with alternatives, including using older artillery. Ukraine is sending strong signals to manufacturers that longer contracts and more production are near. There is even talk of restarting old factories in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.
Of course, this shortage of artillery doesn’t just affect Ukraine and the West. Russia is also running out of artillery, despite being one of the biggest artillery armies in the world. The Russians are trying to ramp up production and buy missiles from North Korea and drones from Iran.