In the face of ongoing hostilities with Russian forces, the Ukrainian military is reevaluating its approach to warfare, veering away from Western-trained battle tactics and embracing longer range standoff strategies. As the counteroffensive enters its third month, concerns are mounting over Ukraine's ammunition reserves and the sustainability of its newly adopted approach.
Since early June, Ukraine's counteroffensive has faced criticism from officials in both Washington and Kiev, who have expressed dissatisfaction with its lack of progress and effectiveness. Notably, the 47th Mechanized Brigade, a NATO-trained unit, has borne the brunt of these challenges, experiencing significant losses, including 30% of its American made Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles within a mere two weeks.
In light of these setbacks, Ukrainian military commanders are now emphasizing a strategy aimed at wearing down Russian forces through the use of artillery and long range missiles, rather than engaging in direct confrontations or maneuver warfare across minefields. Limited training time and the absence of air superiority during the initial stages of the counteroffensive hindered the effective implementation of NATO-standard combined arms tactics, leading to a shift towards a more cautious and standoff approach.
Some Western officials and media outlets have praised this new approach, touting it as a potential hidden advantage for Ukraine, but its overall effectiveness has come into question due to ongoing challenges and the risk of ammunition shortages. With US stockpiles of ammunition already depleted due to the prolonged conflict, Ukraine has had to resort to the use of cluster munitions, raising concerns about the ethical implications and potential humanitarian consequences.
The shortage of ammunition poses a significant threat to Ukraine's military capabilities, potentially placing the nation at a disadvantage in what could become a protracted "war of attrition" with Russian forces. As the conflict persists, maintaining sufficient ammunition levels for sustained long range engagements becomes a critical concern for Ukrainian military planners.