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ISW: Russian forces using artillery to offset degraded offensive capabilities
A Kremlin-backed commander and former Russian-installed proxy official Alexander Khodakovsky said on April 8 that the Russian command has decided to almost completely halt the daily issue of ammunition to areas of the front where there are no active offensive operations.
Khodakovsky, who now oversees a pro-Moscow Vostok Battalion, said that the artillery shortage on the front line results in part from preparations for a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Institute for the Study of War said in their latest update that Khodakovsky’s statement indicates that "the Russian command must prioritize artillery ammunition supplies rigorously due to shortages."
"High demand for shells indicates that Russian forces are still heavily relying on artillery to offset key shortcomings in combat capability, including poor Russian targeting skills, insufficient ground assault capabilities, and inadequate availability of airpower in Ukraine," the ISW found.
Russian forces use heavy artillery to flatten settlements rather than exposing aircraft and pilots to Ukrainian air defenses, and to minimize potential losses before attempting to move in with infantry.
Continuing Russian shortages in artillery rounds will undermine the Russian military’s ability to continue offsetting its other weaknesses and limitations.
The Washington Post reported earlier that by contrast, Ukrainian forces are using one-third as many shells as Russian forces and that Ukrainian forces are conserving shells by carefully prioritizing targets. Ukrainian forces are more accurate in their targeting, but also likely benefit from being on the defensive in most areas since offensive operations typically generate increased artillery requirements.