TechUkrainian forces counter Russian advances with strategic artillery use

Ukrainian forces counter Russian advances with strategic artillery use

A group of Russians was hit by a cluster munition, which was soon followed by an M2A2 Bradley and "kamikaze" drones.
A group of Russians was hit by a cluster munition, which was soon followed by an M2A2 Bradley and "kamikaze" drones.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Rob Lee

12:44 PM EDT, March 30, 2024

Russians have pushed toward the village of Orliwka, but at a significant cost. Here's how Ukrainians have been effectively countering Russian advances.

Russian soldiers, notably those from the 98th Infantry Regiment under the 1st Army Corps, found themselves in a precarious position when they were mistakenly ordered to attack the town of Semeniwka instead of the initially targeted Orliwka. Lacking artillery support, they faced intense Ukrainian shelling from machine guns, mortars, and artillery systems.

After enduring losses, the Russians were pulled back to the ruins of a coke plant in Avdiivka to regroup for another assault. However, 15 soldiers from the previous attempt refused to join the next assault, facing backlash for their reluctance to engage in what they perceived as suicidal missions.

How Ukrainians are countering Russian forces

Retreating from Avdiivka, Ukrainians have fortified positions near water obstacles, including around the village of Orliwka. They defend these positions mainly with artillery support coordinated by drones. Optionally, armoured vehicles or tanks provide additional firepower.

Artillery, especially the 155 mm calibre guns, which can cover distances over 12.4 miles, plays a crucial role. In open fields, a shell with 14.5 - 22 pounds of TNT has a lethal radius beyond 328 feet. Even the most cost-effective shells, like the M107 or DM121, can obliterate an assault group with just a few hits.

Another tactic involves using electric-pyrotechnic fuses that detonate projectiles in the air, significantly expanding the effective strike zone through radio frequency signals that gauge proximity to the ground.

M863A1 or M864 shells with cluster warheads that release numerous bomblets are also employed. These bomblets, some designed to pierce armour and others to cause fragmentation, cover a wide area.

Mortars, operating similarly but at shorter distances, offer significant firepower. For instance, 120 mm mortars can strike targets 4.3 - 7.5 miles away, dispersing 4.4 - 8.8 pounds of TNT over a radius of around 328 feet. Furthermore, lighter 81/82 mm and 60 mm mortars, like the Polish LMP 2017 used in Avdiivka, can hit targets up to 0.8 miles. Russians particularly fear these because their silent approach gives no warning before impact, with a lethal range of approximately 131 feet as they detonate in the air.

These varied methods of warfare, given sufficient ammunition, enable Ukrainian forces to effectively neutralize Russian assault groups well before they reach defensive positions.

Related content