The ongoing conflict in Ukraine offers a window into a new kind of warfare. Despite the smoke and noise of political propaganda and inconsistent sources, observers can discern a surprising amount of strategic maneuvering and tactical decision-making. Notably, the conflict seems to have transitioned into a slow-paced war of attrition. This transformation is a result of Russia’s change of strategy, from quick negotiations to gradually eroding Ukraine’s military capabilities, including its air defenses, without triggering massive human casualties.
The drawn-out nature of this conflict has led many observers to focus on specific battles and tactical hotspots. The hope is that these areas could provide clues about potential shifts in the warfare or the start of more decisive campaigns. However, this focus on localized skirmishes risks overlooking a broader, crucial factor determining the resolution of the conflict: resources, or rather, the lack thereof in Ukraine.
Given that attritional wars typically hinge on artillery, it was assumed that Ukraine’s limiting factor would be its artillery capabilities. This assumption remains largely valid, but recent developments suggest that ammunition and air defense systems are critically depleted. Leaks indicate that Ukraine’s ammo supply was alarmingly low as of March, and its air defenses may be fatally depleted by the end of May. Meanwhile, the weapons the West is providing to Ukraine are mismatched and sometimes outdated, creating training, manning, and logistical problems.
Reports suggest that Ukraine, once firing between 3,000 to 4,000 rounds per day, is now rationing its ammunition due to shortages. This is contrasted by Russia’s increased firepower, with reports suggesting they may now be firing up to 50,000 to 60,000 rounds a day, indicating a significant and worrying firepower gap.
The conflict’s evolution has also seen Russia enhance its use of drone and missile strikes. This increased bombardment, coupled with the dwindling Ukrainian air defenses, signifies a clear shift in Russia’s strategy. They are now targeting not just frontline combat units but also supply lines, railroad junctions, and staging areas in Ukraine. The destruction of these logistical hubs will likely exacerbate Ukraine’s already precarious supply situation.
Drones in Moscow:
1) It could easily have been a false flag – mobilization, or another terrorist attack.
2) Or UA decided to test the air defense of Russia and it shot down several drones that fell into residential buildings (by the way, there are no victims, strangely 🤔)
— MAKS 23 👀🇺🇦 (@Maks_NAFO_FELLA) May 30, 2023
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s response has been to undertake propaganda-oriented attacks, but these have not significantly altered the conflict’s course. They’ve made incursions into Russian territory and attempted high-profile attacks, like targeting the Kerch Bridge and Kremlin, but these efforts have had limited impact.
Despite these challenges, Ukraine may still be hoping to draw NATO into the conflict. However, unless Russia directly attacks a NATO member, it seems unlikely that the alliance would risk escalating the conflict. Instead, the West’s focus seems to be on providing material support to Ukraine. But the quantity of aid necessary to sustain Ukraine’s military operations is unlikely to be sustainable for the West.
One possible future scenario is that the West may eventually run low on military supplies and be forced to gradually decrease its support for Ukraine. This may cause a critical crisis in Ukraine’s military operations, potentially leading to a significant shift in the conflict dynamics.
The war in Ukraine may be a slow-burning one, marked by attrition, resource shortages, and strategic shifts in tactics. The end game might not come from a decisive battle but from the depletion of essential supplies, forcing a change in the conflict’s trajectory. This situation poses significant challenges for Ukraine and highlights the importance of logistics and resource management in modern warfare.