A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jul 7, 2022

Why Ukraine's NATO Weapons Are Critically Degrading Russia's Logistics

The ability of NATO supplied artillery and rockets to hit targets 85 to 100 kilometers behind Russian lines is beginning to degrade the Russian army's ability to advance. 

Due to Russia's shortage of trucks and their abysmal maintenance protocols, it is increasingly dependent on railroads for supply. But the further ranging and more accurate NATO weapons make it easier to take out railroads. And because Russia needs to place supply and ammunition depots close to railroads - and because Ukrainian patriots are relaying those locations to the Ukrainian army, the depots are increasingly being targeted with devastating results. JL

Thomas Theiner reports in Twitter:

Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics. Russian logistics depots are always close to railways. So dependent are the Russians on railways that they have 28,500 railway troops tasked with repairing and building railways. The Russian advance east of Kyiv failed when the Russians couldn't capture the railways. Ukraine artillery (now) allows Ukraine to hit Russian supply depots up to 85 km behind the front with pinpoint accuracy. And thanks to 10,000s of Ukrainian patriots in Russian occupied territories Ukraine knows the coordinates of EVERY Russian ammo depot.While NATO armies use software and AI to plan their supply runs, Russia has lost so many trucks it is now even less capable to supply units 100 km from railways. Since 2014-15 russia built dozens of ammo dumps hidden in civilian buildings near railway stations in the parts of Ukraine it occupies.


Russian logistics depots are always close to railways as russia's military has a serious lack of logistic units, especially transport units. This is compounded by russia's military being corrupt and technologically backwards, even eschewing things like forklifts or cranes.So russian supplies and ammo are loaded by hand onto trains, transported towards the front, unloaded there by hand, loaded onto trucks by hand, and then driven to the frontline units, where it is unloaded again by hand. It's time consuming. No other army is so backwards.
So how did russian ammo supply in Donbas work until Ukraine received M142 HIMARS with long-range GMLRS rockets and highly accurate PzH 2000, AHS Krab, and CAESAR self-propelled howitzers? Well: 1) in russia 2,000 to 4,000 of tons of ammo were loaded onto a train
2) the train entered Ukraine, stopped at various points 30-40 km from the front, ammo was unloaded and stored nearby 3) then frontline units sent their trucks to pick up the ammo they needed The same applied for fuel, spares, food, etc.
So dependent are the russians on railways that they have 28,500 railway troops tasked with repairing and building railways. Like i.e. this bridge they built over the Oskil river to supply their planned upcoming offensive from Izium towards Sloviansk.When russia's military can't access railways then its entire logistics system collapses. The russian advance East of Kyiv failed when the russians couldn't capture the railways passing through Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts. With cities like Nizhyn, Chernihiv and Sumy stubbornlydefended by Ukrainian troops, russia had to truck its supplies to its troops East of Kyiv... and that failed spectacularly, as russian troops can't move more than 90-100 km from their supply depots and at that range russia can only supply its units for defensive operations.


The distance from railways in russia to Brovary outside Kyiv is 350 km... 300 km of which were swarming with Ukrainian special forces and partisans looking to blow up russian supply columns (photo). Now in Donbas, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia russia can supply its troops by train.his allows russia to bring forward the 10,000s of tons of artillery ammo it expends every week; and send the replacement tanks, howitzers, etc. needed to replace russia's immense material losses, and the needed fuel. But now the russian ammo depots and supply pointsAHS Krab, PzH 2000, and CAESAR can use base bleed projectiles with 40 km range (photo: a CAESAR firing a base bleed projectile). Furthermore these howitzers' use modern fire control systems, which use GPS to establish their ownposition and then use the target's GPS coordinates to calculate the correct elevation and deflection of the barrel, then automatically move the barrel into position. All three systems also use radar to measure a fired projectile's speed & adjust the barrel after each shot.
Never before had Ukraine artillery with such accuracy and such range. This allows Ukraine to hit russian supply depots up to 35 km behind the front with pinpoint accuracy. And thanks to 10,000s of Ukrainian patriots in the russian occupied territories Ukraine knows thecoordinates of EVERY russian ammo depot. And now Ukraine also received GMLRS. GMLRS retains full accuracy up to 85 km. This allows Ukraine to land a rocket precisely onto a building 85 km away and set the fuze to detonate the 50 pounds of PBX-109 inside the building.And if it is a large target (i.e. a warehouse) then Ukraine can hit it even if it is further away then 85 km. These two new artillery capabilities have two effects: 1) russia is right now losing 1,000s of tons of ammo 2) russia can't store ammo within 100 km of the front
Every destroyed depot reduces the ammo available to russia's massive number of artillery systems at the front. And russia has to replace this lost ammo. First it can't produce as much as it uses and loses, so russia is already shipping old Soviet ammo from Belarus to Donbas. Secondly russia can't bring this ammo within range of Ukrainian artillery and GMLRS... and has to stop the trains now 90-100 km away from the front or else the ammo dump and train will be destroyed by Ukrainian artillery. Ammo and supplies 100 km from the front meansthat russia again has to rely on trucks to supply its frontline units. But russia already lost at least 1,200+ of its truck fleet and the remainder has been in use for months now - and russia's famous lack of maintenance is surely taking a huge toll on the remaining trucks.


1) trains will stop 100 km from the front and ammo will be unloaded by hand 2) trucks will be loaded by hand and then drive to the front. Loading by hand takes hours and driving 100 km in a rear combat zone takes more hoursWorse for russia - russian trucks carry less tonnage then Western military trucks and unlike Western ammo russian ammo comes in bulky wooden boxes. • russian ammo trucks transport mostly wood • Western ammo trucks (photo) transport almost only bang3) the russian trucks finally arrive at the front 4) the ammo is unloaded (by hand) 5) the trucks return to the railheads At this distance russian truckers will struggle to make more than one supply run per day... and if the russians don't plan their supply runs perfectly
then some units will get too little ammo, others too much - which is worse: because what do you with the extra ammo? Drop it on the ground or have the trucks stay with the unit until the ammo is needed? If you drop it on the ground and the unit has to move... well then theammo is lost. If you keep the trucks with the unit, then no one is driving back to get more ammo. And while NATO armies use software and AI to plan their supply runs, russians use officers' guts... this wouldn't matter if russia had enough trucks, but having lost so manytrucks of the already few ones it began the war with russia is now even less capable to supply units 100 km from railways. russia is a 20th century military with 19th century logistics... and now it is fighting an army receiving 21st century weapons. It will take time, butwhile NLAW, Javelin and Stinger helped Ukraine win the Battle of Kyiv; now CAESAR, AHS Krab, PzH 2000 and especially GMLRS will help Ukraine win the Battle for Donbas and the Battle for Kherson. Because: Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.


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