Factors affecting battlefield situation

Factors affecting battlefield situation

Lieutenant General Ivan Havryliuk explains why it is difficult to expect significant changes on front lines without modern tools of war

The Russian totalitarian regime has been preparing for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine for a long time. Having accumulated significant resources, the Kremlin, after an unsuccessful blitzkrieg in the spring of 2022, managed to readjust to a long war of attrition. The resources of the Russian national welfare fund, where the enemy systematically deposited petrodollars, are now being reinvested in the military industry. Their military factories are now operating much more intensively than before the war.

At the same time, after the end of the Cold War, European arms manufacturers did not receive large orders for a long time. Apart from the Russians, no one was preparing for long-term wars. The defense industry of Ukraine and its Western partners was not designed for the unprecedented intensity of hostilities in Ukraine during more than two years of war on a huge front line. Speeding up production and deploying new capabilities is not a one-time process. Russia's war in Ukraine is the largest since World War II and requires enormous resources.

After two years of full-scale war, the Russians still have considerable firepower. And this despite the fact that their weapons reserves are quickly running out due to huge battlefield losses. Since the last meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein format (a little more than a month has passed since February 14), the Ukrainian Defense Forces have destroyed 12 Russian fighter-bombers, an A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft, more than 350 tanks and almost 1,000 armored fighting vehicles. However, despite huge battlefield losses, the Russians still have a significant advantage in terms of weapons and equipment thanks to the stockpiles of Soviet-made military equipment. Since the beginning of the large-scale invasion, the Ukrainian Defense Forces have annihilated more than 10,600 (!) artillery systems of the Russians. But this is less than half of their stocks.


Russia has assessed the current production capabilities of Ukraine and its allies and is using its advantage in ammunition without actually reducing the intensity of fire. As of early 2024, the advantage in artillery fire along the front line was seven to one in favor of the enemy. The Kremlin expects that they will have enough ammunition to dominate the battlefield for a long time. This firepower is ensured not only by Russian plants. The North Korean regime is also helping the Russians with weapons in significant quantities.

Russian combat aircraft dominate the skies. Enemy fighter jets are actively using gliding bombs against Ukrainian positions on the battlefield and frontline areas. Since the beginning of this year (in 77 days), enemy aircraft have dropped more than 3,500 guided bombs on Ukrainian positions, 16 times more than in 2023.

The long-awaited F-16 fighter jets should break the dominance of the Russians in the aerial war and strengthen the Ukrainian capabilities of the Ukrainian Defense Forces on the ground. The Ukrainians still do not have the F-16, and stockpiles of certain types of ammunition are falling to a critical level. These and other factors make it difficult for the Ukrainian Defense Forces to repel the aggressor's attacks.

Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine


Huge manpower resources are another important trump card of the occupiers. People who deliberately go to kill Ukrainians, and millions of Russians who support their country's war of aggression against Ukraine. Putin manages to maintain control over Russia's information space.

Those who observe the increasing statistics of Russian army losses in the war with Ukraine and think that they should stop are mistaken. They will not stop! Because soldiers in Russia are consumable items. Evidence of this is the seizure by the Russian army of Bakhmut and then Avdiivka. The Russians suffered huge losses during "meat assaults" on these cities.

The cruel attitude towards the lives of soldiers is the Kremlin's most terrible weapon. Since the last meeting in the Ramstein format, the Russian army has lost more than 32,000 of its soldiers in Ukraine, and in total, more than 431,000 since the war started. However, huge losses of people do not stop Putin or Russian commanders.

No doubt, sometime after the pseudo-election in Russia, Putin will drive his new soldiers forward with renewed fury. He will order the next forced mobilization and collect new mercenaries from third countries. At the beginning of his new presidential-dictator term, he will want more victories on the battlefield in Ukraine, and more fear for Europeans. Before this new wave of Russian mobilized soldiers ends up at the front, Ukraine may have time to mobilize forces by strengthening brigades and creating reserves.

Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine


Two factors -- a lot of weapons and soldiers -- now allow Russia to hope for a long war, which they expect should bring them success. In this context, the question arises: "How long will Russia demonstrate its military power and what needs to be done to bring closer the moment when the aggressor will face a shortage of weapons?"

I have only one answer - it is necessary to accelerate the current pace of enemy losses.

To do so, the Ukrainian Defense Forces need to increase their firepower. The Ukrainians are still largely dependent on allies. They need a wide range of more advanced Western weapons. For example, when we have enough long-range high-precision missiles to hit enemy positions deep behind front lines, it gives us the opportunity to constantly strike the enemy's rear bases and complicate the supply of ammunition, that is, to reduce the potential of their advanced units, particularly artillery units.

Obviously, we cannot compete with the Russians in terms of the number of tanks, artillery barrels, and soldiers. Therefore, I focus on modern weapons, which are more powerful and more accurate than Russian ones, and therefore they are more effective. Long range and accuracy of strikes are key factors.

Photo: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine


Despite the current difficult realities, I have reason to be optimistic about the development of the situation. The United States and Europe objectively assess the situation and threats from today's Russia. The only safeguard against a prolonged and larger war is providing Ukraine with the necessary military aid - this is no longer a theorem that needs to be proven. This is an axiom.

In that context, I have high hopes for the adoption of important decisions for Ukraine regarding the provision of new military aid packages during the upcoming meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein format. Despite problems with ammunition production in the world, we must find opportunities with our partners to provide the Ukrainian Defense Forces with everything they need.

Without modern tools of war, it is difficult to count on significant changes at the front. First of all, we need anti-aircraft systems, aircraft, long-range missiles, projectiles, especially 155mm projectiles, modern EW systems, etc.

The outcome of this war primarily depends on Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield and the weapons of our allies.

Our soldiers have already surprised the world with their resilience, courage and ability to fight. The number of burnt-out Russian tanks, downed enemy military aircraft, and destroyed ships of the Black Sea Fleet also speaks of this. We must continue to fight. Many Ukrainians visit the recruiting centers of brigades all over Ukraine every day. It is extremely important that each and every one of these motivated defenders has modern weapons in their hands, which will provide a technological advantage over the enemy and bring Ukraine's victory closer. The victory of free democracies over authoritarian tyranny.

Ivan Havryliuk, Lieutenant General, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine

First photo: Armed Forces of Ukraine

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