When it’s time to expect things in armed conflict there are certain things you can count on happening. Others come completely out of left field and catch you by surprise. So far in 2022, the biggest surprise has been the recent development of North Korea selling arms to the Russians for the conflict in Ukraine.
You read that right.
According to US intelligence, North Korea is selling millions of artillery shells and rockets to the Russians. This isn’t just a sign of things going badly in the conflict, but it’s also a sign that the US-led sanctions against Russia are working incredibly well. Just the fact that other nations are willingly complying with these sanctions is an incredibly strong sign of things to come.
Unfortunately for Russia, due to poor storage and maintenance problems, some of the artillery shells and rockets have severely degraded over the years. This has been evidenced in the effectiveness of these shells in Ukraine.
Typically, an artillery shell will explode just overhead to produce the most damaging effects. These shells from North Korea, on the other hand, have been blowing up on the ground and, as such, are not having the devastating effects the Russians would like to see.
Then again, reports have been coming in that Russia was going through 60,000 rounds per day at the height of the fighting on Donbas back in June. This would create a huge dent in Russian stockpiles, even if they had been successfully building the pile since the Cold War. While this level of shelling would be effective for most militaries, the Russians have been coming up short there too.
Russian ammunition is burning in Nova Kakhovka, which was destroyed with the help of Himars – (Ukraine needs more long-range Atacms missiles to knock out the warehouses of the killers of the Ukrainian people)#KhersonisUkraine #HIMARS #atacmsforukraine #Himarstime pic.twitter.com/v4GrumNA6Y
— Роман Ніколін (@NikolinRoman) August 30, 2022
With Putin not taking the extra step of calling for national mobilization, he is only sending in the contract soldiers and not those who have been drafted. This means the only people fighting are those who are incredibly stiff in their battle plans and those who refuse to think on their feet.
By sticking to a failing plan, they keep wasting ammunition-to the tone of over a million rockets and artillery rounds per month.
Intelligence is also working on another theory about Russia buying North Korean ammunition.
They believe it could be simply so Ukraine lacks that as an option to use. Granted, there is a glaring problem with this theory. Currently, only Russia and North Korea are using the same caliber of rockets and artillery.
The rest of the planet uses other calibers, thus meaning that anyone looking to use North Korean products would need new launching systems, which would be incredibly expensive to add to the cost of buying North Korean arms. As it is, even China is phasing out its old stockpile of these calibers of arms.
Back around May of this year, multiple NATO countries attempted to source Russian-compliant arms to send to Ukraine and came up empty in their search. Right around that time frame is when NATO begin sending Ukraine more sophisticated weapons systems to help them purge the old and ineffective Russian equipment.
The push from Ukraine to get on the right path and to be armed properly is a difficult road for them to travel, but they seem to be navigating it very well.
Multiple articles from outlets like the New York Times have indicated that Russia is blowing through rounds at an unprecedented pace, but they have been unable to keep up with the maintenance of their launching systems. This would render the weapons far less effective.
Any way you slice it, Russia is at a distinct disadvantage fighting Ukraine. They don’t have the support Ukraine has, nor do they have the ground forces who are determined to win.
Instead, they rely on resupply from a desperate dictator and have ground forces with no leadership corps. This is a failure for the Russians, and the only question left is about how long it will take them to accept that.