The Russian invasion of Ukraine, after nine months of intense shipments of high-precision missiles, is going through a critical situation for both sides. Many of the rockets sent by both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries are neutralized by missile defense systems.
Even so, warfare is waged more with precision ranged weapons than tank or infantry combat. In addition to the regrettable loss of life and the deterioration of Ukraine’s energy and logistics system, both Volodomir Zelensky and Vladimir Putin have reduced the capacity of their missile stockpiles.
Two-thirds of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries have exhausted their capacity to send weapons to Ukraine, US military sources told The New York Times.
“Smaller countries have exhausted their potential, with 20 of their 30 members quite exhausted,” publishes that newspaper in the Sunday edition. Only the largest countries, such as France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, can still supply Ukraine with weapons.
One problem is that Ukraine is asking NATO for more weapons than its allies can supply if the conflict continues at the same intensity. Ukraine fires about 6,000 rounds a day, and the New York Times reports that the United States, NATO’s main partner, “averages 15,000 rounds a month.”
According to the article, the Atlantic alliance seeks to replace state-of-the-art missiles with Soviet-era weapons and artillery, many of which are located in countries that were formerly part of the Warsaw Pact and are now members of NATO. Those old weapons are, among others, the S-300 air defense missiles and artillery shells of Soviet origin.
NATO officials have reportedly pressured Ukraine to further ration its attacks. The article mentions that some of the missiles fired from Kiev cost $150,000 and that those weapons are running low in the Ukrainian arsenal.
NATO has already spent 90% of the €3.1 billion European Peace Facility created by the European Union to offset the spending of its member countries in support of Ukraine.
In total, the transatlantic body’s financial support amounts to about 40 billion euros, equal to France’s military budget.
Russia runs out of weapons
The other player in the war, Russia, also has supply problems and starts launching old nuclear missiles. This was reported by the British Ministry of Defence. The British government believes it is “probable” that Russia is launching missiles against Ukraine made to deliver atomic weapons, but without nuclear warheads. This would show that it is depleting its supply of long-range shells.
In its daily report on the war in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defense warned of the use of these missiles. “Even if they will continue to cause damage due to their kinetic energy and remaining fuel, they are unlikely to achieve reliable effects on targets,” the British agency said.
According to the Defense Ministry, the images obtained in open source code show the remains of a KENT AS-15 missile, designed in the 1980s to be used as a nuclear weapon and whose head would have been replaced by a ballast. They cause damage on impact but are in no way equivalent to their intended use.
According to London, Moscow is using these types of weapons as bait to distract the Ukrainian air defenses. “Whatever Russia’s intention, this improvisation underscores the level of depletion of Russia’s long-range missile reserves,” the news outlet said.
There have been numerous reports that Russia is facing declining stockpiles of missiles, although there is uncertainty about the state of Moscow’s arsenal.
For his part, Mark Cancian, senior adviser to the National Security Program at the Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told Newsweek that even before the war, Russia didn’t produce many missiles. This was further affected by the sanctions imposed since the start of the invasion.
Cancian told Newsweek that Russia’s largest remaining inventory is anti-aircraft S-300s, which “aren’t very accurate when fired ground-to-ground, so it would be reasonable for the Russians to use the latter.”
“Russia hasn’t fired many missiles in the last four or five months,” the expert said. What he does is “fire a large number of missiles in a short period of time, which draws a lot of attention and has a concentrated effect, but you can’t keep up that level of effort for a long time.”
This is why “their attacks are episodic. That’s why you can continue the missile campaign with limited inventory,” noted Cancian. To maintain “the momentum of the offensive against Ukraine, it is resorting to drones supplied by Iran,” he concluded.