Russia’s five-month long offensive to capture Avdiivka in the eastern Donestk Oblast has resulted in more Russian military casualties sustained in the operation than the total pre-war population of the Ukrainian town.

Ukrainian forces were recently given the command to pull back from Avdiivka, reforming some 5-10km westwards in what Western officials described as a “measured” withdrawal. Contrary accounts of the fighting indicate that Ukrainian forces were deprived of artillery support during the final days and weeks, as ammunition supplies dried up following the US’ inability to continue its military contribution to Ukraine and Europe’s inability to quickly step in to cover Ukraine’s needs.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

However, the cost to Russia appears to be significant, with up to 10,000 military personnel killed and injured each month since October 2023 in the Avdiivka offensive, with hundreds of armoured vehicles also lost in combat.

Should these estimates be accurate, Russia sustained around 50,000 killed and injured in its campaign to capture Avdiivka, a number significantly greater than the town’s approximate 31,000 pre-war population.

Avdiivka is now a wasteland, with virtually no structure undamaged by five months of intense urban fighting and artillery bombardment.

In the week that marks two years since Russia’s large-scale invasion of its neighbour, the combined military losses on both sides are thought to have exceeded 500,000 in the bloodiest war seen on the European continent for generations.

Europe to provide 500,000 artillery shells to Ukraine in 2024

Meanwhile, it is understood that European promises to provide one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024 could be met, despite significant challenges, with a new target of 1.5 million rounds delivered by the end of the year. By November 2023, European countries had provided around 500,000 rounds to Ukraine.

European industry has also sought to enable in-country manufacture of artillery ammunition for Ukraine, with German defence prime Rheinmetall recently signing a deal.

In November 2023 the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated that countries of the European Union would produce one million artillery shells per year from 2024, as the continent’s defence industries orientate towards more active production lines in the face of Russia aggression in Ukraine.

It is uncertain that these efforts will be enough to secure Ukraine’s current frontlines, and almost certainly they will not provide enough stockpiles to enable a Ukrainian offensive later in 2024. With defensive lines now figuratively and literally entrenched, overwhelming artillery firepower will be a prerequisite for Ukraine or Russia in achieving significant gains through the next year.

155mm artillery rounds stacked up behind a line of UK-donated AS90s and their Ukrainian operators. However, most of Ukraine’s artillery is of Russian origin. Credit: UK MoD/Crown copyright

Continued US intransigence on approving a military support package to Ukraine, which is reliant on external support to enable its continued fight against Russia, has shifted expectations for 2024, to a year of attrition in Ukraine’s battlegrounds.

By December 2023, the US alone had provided two million rounds of 155mm ammunition, 800,000 105mm shells, 10,000 203mm shells, 200,000 152mm rounds, 40,000 130mm shells, and 40,000 130mm shells, along with 100,000 guided and unguided rockets and more than 400,000 mortar rounds from 60-120mm calibre, according to Department of Defense figures.

This amounts to more than 3.5 million rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition given to Ukraine since February 2022 up to December 2023. For small arms rifles and machines guns, the US provided in excess of 400 million rounds to Ukraine.

According to January 2023 analysis from Mark Cancian, senior advisor at the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ukraine had amassed a pool of around 1,600 artillery pieces following Russia’s 2022 invasion, comprised of some 1,150 Soviet-era 152mm and 122mm howitzers and more than 424 artillery pieces received from allies, mainly the US, UK, and other European countries.

One significant factor to consider is that Ukraine’s predominant use of Soviet-era or Russian designed artillery means that availability of compatible ammunition on the international market is reduced, with Russia, China, and others, unwilling to sell to the US or European countries in support of Ukraine’s war effort.

Even among countries that were willing to sell 155mm artillery ammunition and other stock to Nato allies, a significant price would have been extracted in order to seal any deal.