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Drones instead of shells, vulnerability of ships and tanks, limitations of mobilization: Ten takeaways from two years of the war in Ukraine

The second year of full-scale warfare in Ukraine has seen a shift towards positional combat, with drones gaining supremacy over traditional armaments and each side actively searching for a transformative technological innovation capable of altering the conflict's trajectory. One year ago, The Insider outlined its initial insights, shedding light on enduring challenges such as logistical deficiencies, the susceptibility of aviation compared to drones, and shortages in weaponry and ammunition. Another year on, fresh revelations emerge. For instance, it has become clear that the era dominated by tanks on land, large naval vessels at sea, and manned aircraft in the skies has drawn to a close. Artillery is gradually ceding ground to drone technology, while traditional notions of national mobilization of reserves prove ill-suited to contemporary societal needs.

Content
  • Downfall of the blitzkrieg

  • Weaponry shortage

  • Multimillion-strong armies are a thing of the past

  • Drones replace artillery

  • The tank dethroned

  • Slaughter at sea

  • Air defense trumps aviation

  • “Mangals” and “dragon's teeth” are effective

  • Logistics struggles to keep pace with tactics

  • The elusive “Red Lines”

Downfall of the blitzkrieg

The conflict in Ukraine has seen a notable shift away from the once-famed “blitzkrieg” tactics of the 1930s, which were characterized by the mass advance of tank and mechanized units. Operations aimed at overwhelming the enemy with an onslaught of steel targeting the weakest points of the defender’s front line were prevalent in both Western and Soviet military doctrine. They were used on battlefields in Israel, Iraq, Georgia, and also Ukraine. However, at this point in the current conflict, blitzkrieg appears to have reached its limits of usefulness.

The September 2022 counteroffensive by the Ukrainian Armed Forces appeared to mirror events from the pages of history textbooks; even the town names — Barvinkove, Balakliia, Izyum — echo those of 1942, when German forces shattered Soviet defenses near Kharkiv during Operation Fredericus. However, this apparent resurgence proved more an anomaly than a trend. Over the subsequent eighteen months, neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian Armed Forces managed to penetrate enemy lines or secure significant operational gains. The sight of hundreds of burnt-out tanks and BBMs near Vuhledar, Rovnianka, and Avdiivka symbolized a return to a familiar positional deadlock — the kind of stalemate that was broken in the last century first by the advent of armored warfare, then by the development of strategies for its swift and decisive use in offensive operations.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Body of a slain Russian soldier in front of a damaged tank. Storozhove, June 14, 2023
Body of a slain Russian soldier in front of a damaged tank. Storozhove, June 14, 2023
Oleksandr Ratushniak / Reuters

Despite numerous commentators blaming battlefield failures on inept “butcher generals” (both their own and the enemy's), many analysts and participants in the events, including former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi himself, argue that the root cause of the current standoff is the evolution of military technology rather than the devolution of military leadership.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

The cause for the current positional stalemate, like in the First World War, lies not so much in leadership as in the evolution of military technology

It is a pattern familiar from the First World War, in which attempts to advance were halted by the devastating firepower of machine guns and multi-shot rifles. Today, the modern battlefield is characterized by a sophisticated combination of precision weaponry, including guided projectiles, missiles, and UAVs, along with advanced reconnaissance capabilities such as satellites, reconnaissance drones, and even the eyes and ears of local residents equipped with smartphones. Communication technologies, including space-based systems, further enhance command and control capabilities. Commanders at all levels now have real-time situational awareness, enabling them to issue immediate orders for fire missions. This significant thinning in the “fog of war,” a concept described by the 19th-century German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, was noted by former Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Yuri Baluyevsky in his article on the lessons learned from the so-called “special military operation”, or “SMO.

In such a technologically advanced environment, it is next to impossible to covertly deploy a sizeable military force, let alone a battalion tactical group. Any attempt to gather troops is swiftly met with enemy countermeasures.

Therefore, following the bitter lessons learned from failed tank and mechanized assaults, both sides have shifted towards tactics involving small-group storming actions supported by only a limited number of armored vehicles. As Zaluzhnyi wrote, this shift inevitably reduces combat operations to a positional battle of attrition from which escape seems impossible without a significant technological breakthrough.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Both sides have shifted towards tactics involving small-group storming actions supported by only a limited number of armored vehicles

Weaponry shortage

The resurgence of prolonged conventional warfare, following on from an era dominated by counter-terrorism operations and localized conflicts, has revealed the stark inadequacies of modern armies in such scenarios. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a steady decline in the production of essential heavy weaponry — from tanks and armored vehicles to aircraft, missiles, and ammunition.

Furthermore, production capacities have suffered, as maintaining idle facilities proved prohibitively expensive. In the West (and to a lesser extent in post-Soviet nations), surplus military equipment has been sold off or, due to the considerable costs associated with storage, simply scrapped. Consider this example: while the USSR produced over 3,000 tanks in 1987, an estimate of Russia's plans for 2021 put the number at 240 — with only 70 of these being newly manufactured T-90Ms and the rest consisting of upgraded T-72s and T-80s.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

A production line in one of Uralvagonzavod's workshops, December 28, 2023
A production line in one of Uralvagonzavod's workshops, December 28, 2023
Uralvagonzavod — UVZ / Telegram

Consequently, the demands of protracted warfare have overwhelmed the military-industrial complexes of Russia, Ukraine, and Kyiv’s Western partners. Both belligerents have faced shortages of ammunition at various stages. Ukraine has sought to restock its arsenal by procuring shells from the democratic world, while Russia has relied on supplies from Iran and North Korea. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have been furnished with previous-generation Leopard 1 tanks, while the Russian Armed Forces have been seen pulling hopelessly outdated T-54/55 tanks and other antiquated equipment out of storage. Stocks at Soviet-era military storage facilities are anticipated to be depleted within two to three years. Both sides frequently resort to makeshift methods to manufacture ammunition for drones.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

The demands of protracted warfare have overwhelmed the military-industrial complexes of Russia, Ukraine, and their Western partners

Presently, the United States, Europe, Russia, and Ukraine are diligently working to bolster the capabilities of their defense enterprises. This includes organizing round-the-clock operations at existing facilities and commissioning new ones.

Multimillion-strong armies are a thing of the past

The scale of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which involves hundreds of thousands of military personnel on each side, surpasses that of most conflicts in recent decades. However, it pales in comparison to the participation levels seen in the 20th century’s two world wars — even if the current confrontation carries no less existential significance.

According to Vladimir Putin, around 600,000 Russians are currently involved in the fighting in Ukraine. For comparison, on June 22, 1941, the day that Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Red Army had more than 5 million personnel, a number that doubled with the mobilization effort that followed the outbreak of war. Between 1941-1945, up to 7 million Ukrainians served in Soviet forces. And yet today, heated debates in Ukraine revolve around the possibility of mobilizing an additional 500,000 people. This situation, which creates contradictions between war participants and a significant portion of the non-combatant population, is driven by several factors.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Russian Armed Forces servicemen mobilized in the Moscow region, October 1, 2022
Russian Armed Forces servicemen mobilized in the Moscow region, October 1, 2022
Ilya Pitalev / RIA Novosti

Firstly, as mentioned before, limitations in the production of military equipment — which, due to the high-tech nature of modern weaponry, cannot be ramped up to the scale seen during the world wars — mean that producing weaponry for armies of several million people is simply unfeasible.

Secondly, there are modern challenges to mobilization, likely stemming from increased population mobility compared to the past century and resistance to any abrupt state interventions in private life.

Thirdly, like all developed nations, both Russia and Ukraine have undergone demographic transitions since World War II, resulting in a decrease in the number of children in families and a population that is, overall, older than it was a century ago. In post-Soviet states, this dynamic was further exacerbated by the decline in birth rates that accompanied the political and economic transition of the 1990s.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Producing weaponry for armies of several million people is simply unfeasible

The above factors largely apply to other countries as well, meaning that in the event of a full-scale conflict, no nation on Earth would have an easy time putting millions of its citizens in uniform. On one hand, having fewer soldiers on the front line reduced the potential for the kinds of mass casualty operations that characterized the world wars, but on the other hand, the limited number of troops renders the concentration of forces necessary for pushing through enemy lines to a significant depth all but impossible. Combined with the aforementioned technological advancements, this demographic factor further complicates any attempt to break out of the shackles of positional warfare.

Drones replace artillery

From the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the importance of the “drone war” has been widely discussed. Each side has deployed drones in unprecedented numbers on the battlefield — and also behind enemy lines. However, with the proliferation of FPV drones, it has become evident that drones can serve not only as auxiliary means of fire support but also as primary ones, at least partially replacing artillery in the face of ammunition shortages.

Even prior to the onset of the months-long “ammunition shortage” connected with delays in the provision of American aid, the Ukrainian Armed Forces had begun repelling Russian attacks largely through the use of kamikaze drones. In line with its plan to produce one million drones (with the help of its Western partners), Ukraine is updating the doctrine and organizational structure of its military by introducing an Unmanned Systems Forces as a distinct branch, right alongside tank forces and air defense. Ukrainian brigades are also rapidly integrating companies of strike unmanned aviation complexes (SUACs).

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Even prior to the onset of the months-long “ammunition shortage” the Ukrainian Armed Forces had begun repelling Russian attacks using almost exclusively kamikaze drones

What we are witnessing is a grand experiment in replacing shells with drones on an unprecedented scale. Judging from the fact that the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to hold the front lines despite shortages of ammunition and personnel, the experiment seems to be yielding positive results.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

A Ukrainian marine operating an FPV drone. Dnipropetrovsk region, May 15, 2023
A Ukrainian marine operating an FPV drone. Dnipropetrovsk region, May 15, 2023
Sofiia Gatilova / Reuters

Of course, there is also a more skeptical take on the development of strike drones. Stacy Pettyjohn, an expert at the Center for a New American Security, acknowledges the importance of reconnaissance and strike drones but points out that kamikaze drones primarily serve a tactical role in the hands of infantry, meaning that they cannot fully replace artillery fire or air strikes. Similar sentiments are echoed by Ukrainian military personnel surveyed by the Kyiv Independent.

The tank dethroned

The widespread use of drones and other reconnaissance and precision strike assets has once again raised doubts about the effectiveness of tanks. Tanks have been declared obsolete multiple times since 1919, particularly after the introduction of anti-tank guns and ATGWs. However, this time, the relatively low numbers and high cost of modern combat vehicles are leading some observers to question their practicality on the battlefield. They risk being rendered inoperable by drones that often cost a fraction of the tank's price.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Damaged Ukrainian armored vehicles, including Leopard tanks, near Zaporizhzhia, June 2023
Damaged Ukrainian armored vehicles, including Leopard tanks, near Zaporizhzhia, June 2023
Ministry of Defense of Russia / Telegram

Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovskiy suggests a solution that includes the use of “new types of active defense” aimed at countering the threat of drones, in addition to older “tank killers” such as RPGs and ATGWs. However, Murakhovskiy also recognizes the diminished role of tanks on the modern battlefield. Tanks, traditionally employed for direct fire attacks, are increasingly being utilized for indirect fire from concealed positions or to support infantry assaults in small numbers. Murakhovskiy's proposal to revert to large tank formations is controversial given that offensives led by columns of armored vehicles (up to 30 units) often end disastrously for attackers.

Meanwhile, Rob Lee, an expert at the Institute for the Study of Foreign Policy, notes that the tank (and its crew) has superior battlefield survivability compared to IFVs or APCs, not to mention infantry. He notes that drones often fail to successfully hit even a stationary tank on the first attempt, and that anti-drone “visors” can serve as a cheap and relatively effective means of defense — this despite the handful of videos that have proliferated showing tanks that were successfully immobilized by drones.

These ongoing debates reflect a shifting paradigm in the value, modernization, and tactical deployment of tanks, hinting that the era of their unquestioned battlefield dominance is waning, even if it has not come to an end.

Slaughter at sea

Similar to tanks, large surface ships are another type of weaponry whose dominance has been called into question. The Russian Navy’s Black Sea assets have suffered significant losses due to strikes from Ukrainian cruise missiles and from its rapidly evolving maritime drones, also known as unmanned boats (UBs).

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Losses of the Russian fleet since February 24, 2022
Losses of the Russian fleet since February 24, 2022
The Insider

As a result, after two years of conflict, the Russian fleet has become practically incapable of carrying out its main military tasks: amphibious operations, support for ground forces in coastal areas, maintenance of a naval blockade, and long-range missile strikes on Ukrainian territory. Despite Russia’s overwhelming advantage in tonnage (the Ukrainian surface fleet consists of just a few patrol boats), Russian ships must move through the Black Sea with extreme caution due to the constant threat posed by UBs.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

After two years of conflict, the Russian fleet has become practically incapable of carrying out its main military tasks

Russian military analyst and prominent naval enthusiast Ilya Kramnik has come to the defense of the concept of a surface fleet. Responding to hopes expressed by pro-Russian channels that the development of maritime drones would lead to the collapse of U.S. naval dominance, Kramnik notes that surface fleets, much like tanks, have faced the question of their obsolescence multiple times, notably in connection with the emergence of torpedoes, submarines, and anti-ship missiles. Kramnik points out that in response to each of these threats, defensive measures were developed. As with tanks, large ships remain a component of modern arsenals because they fulfill a need that no other weapon system has been able to substitute for.

Kramnik speculates that a potential response to the proliferation of UBs could involve a return to “constructive protection,” which entails armoring ships and installing new defensive systems. However, such solutions will likely be more relevant for newer generations of fleets. For now, the threat posed by maritime drones remains significant, and the Russian Navy has yet to find an adequate response to it.

Air defense trumps aviation

Practically all major successful offensive operations since the mid-20th century have been facilitated by the attacking side's air superiority. Air defense systems proved powerless against massed raids by bombers and ground-attack aircraft, which targeted logistical nodes, command centers, and marching columns, often serving as “flying artillery” by striking the enemy's front line positions. Additionally, strategic bombing gained significant importance, inflicting considerable damage on the enemy's military industry and critical infrastructure, such as energy systems.

However, with the development of surface-to-air guided missiles and the introduction of projectiles with proximity fuses (which detonate near a target rather than on a target, showering it with shrapnel), military aviation has become more complex. As a result, schemes for suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses (SEAD/DEAD) were devised, along with special ammunition such as anti-radar missiles and reconnaissance means including long-range radar detection aircraft and radar satellites. But while the United States and NATO more or less managed to neutralize enemy air defenses in Iraq and Yugoslavia, the air defense systems deployed by Ukraine (S-300 and Patriot) and Russia (S-300 and S-400) make the establishment of air superiority from either side significantly more difficult.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

A German IRIS-T air defense system transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, February 2023
A German IRIS-T air defense system transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, February 2023
ArmyInform

During the Second Karabakh War, the Armenian air defense's inability to counter emerging threats like heavy attack drones and barrage munitions once again cast doubt on the efficacy of “morally outdated” anti-aircraft missile systems. However, despite the substantial losses suffered by both sides' air defense networks in the current war, neither Russian nor Ukrainian aviation has been able to secure even limited air superiority, meaning that neither side can execute precise bombing runs on the battlefield or in the enemy’s immediate rear.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

Despite substantial losses suffered by both sides' air defense networks, neither Russian nor Ukrainian aviation has been able to secure air superiority

Air defense systems designed to counter an adversary in possession of superior aircraft continue to effectively blanket the majority of the airspace in and around Ukraine. The Russian air defense network owes its resilience to years of modernization of domestically developed SAM systems, while Ukraine’s defenses rely on the integration of Western systems and the adaptation of Soviet-era systems for use with Western-made missiles.

As a result, the role of combat aviation has been reduced to launching a diverse range of munitions from beyond the enemy's air defense engagement zone. These range from unguided rocket projectiles to “Kinzhal” missiles, which have also proven to be vulnerable to modern SAMs. The utilization of reasonably accurate long-range air-launched munitions is curbed by their cost and by the amount of time it takes to produce each additional missile. However, recent Russian efforts to meet this challenge have involved the widespread use of relatively inexpensive UPCM modules, a tactic that was on notable display in the battle for Avdiivka.

Still, Ukraine’s strategic deployment of scarce Patriot systems and the future delivery of F-16 fighters equipped with long-range air-to-air missiles could partially neutralize Russia’s Su-34 fighter-bombers, which employ aviation bombs with UPCMs from distances not exceeding 60 km.

“Mangals” and “dragon's teeth” are effective

Low-tech defensive measures that initially attracted the scorn of commentators have proven remarkably effective on the battlefield. The installation of gridded canopies (also known as “mangals”) on tanks and other armored vehicles, initially intended to shield against Javelin ATGM impacts on the turret roof, have helped make tanks less vulnerable to the proliferation of inexpensive armed drones. Footage continues to emerge showing how “mangals” and counter-drone “tents” intended for defense against the Ukrainian artillery also withstand hits from kamikaze drones and barrage munitions. Similar constructions have begun to appear on Ukrainian armored vehicles as well (1, 2).

The tactic has even spread. Shortly before the start of its ground operation in the Gaza sector, visors were observed on the Merkava tanks used by the Israel Defense Forces. It seems that such constructions will be used until moe reliable technological solutions are found for combating drones, whether through EW or by the development of active defense complexes capable of shooting down the miniature aircraft in flight.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

View from space of the Russian defense line in Zaporizhzhia, March 2023
View from space of the Russian defense line in Zaporizhzhia, March 2023
Maxar Technologies

Static defensive lines also proved highly effective. The Russian deployment of “dragon's teeth” and the creation of anti-tank ditches and mine barriers during the winter of 2022-2023 along the so-called Surovikin Line proved effective in stalling Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive in the summer of 2023. The Ukrainian Armed Forces faced shortages in equipment for demining and breaching these barriers. Consequently, each obstacle slowed down advancing forces, rendering armored columns vulnerable targets for artillery, ATGWs, and FPV drones.

Ukrainian soldiers noted similar challenges faced by the Russians during the battle for Avdiivka.As Russian troops initiated their offensive there, Ukraine responded by constructing long-term defensive structures. Allocations from the country's budget include special funds for installing “dragon's teeth” barriers of its own.

And once again, a development seen on the Ukrainian battlefield is spreading abroad, with similar defensive lines being planned for the Baltic countries in order to guard against potential Russian aggression. Clearly, such defenses add complexity to the already challenging task of returning to maneuver warfare. How to address this challenge when aviation cannot fully neutralize enemy firepower affecting the entire defended territory remains unclear. It turns out that some of defensive barriers largely considered to be out of date decades ago still have a useful role to play in the 21st century.

Logistics struggles to keep pace with tactics

The tactical use of large mechanized formations in Soviet military doctrine relied on substantial logistical units — companies and battalions of material-technical support, responsible for centralized supply operations facilitated by cargo trucks. (In the Russian Armed Forces, brigades also fulfill this role.)

However, during the full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, this logistical structure suffered multiple blows. Initially, HIMARS MLRS units hunted down large Russian ammunition depots, forcing them to relocate farther away from the front line. Then, the shift to small group tactics in both offensive and defensive operations, as well as breaking up artillery batteries into individual guns, made delivery by trucks such as KamAZ, Ural, and KrAZ impractical. Finally, the proliferation of small drones enabled strikes on logistics routes inside the combat zone, impeding trucks’ access to the battlefield.

Given these constraints, the demand emerged for small and relatively inconspicuous means of delivering supplies to the front. SUVs, UAZ “Bukhanka” minibuses, and even electric carts and animal-drawn wagons have been used in this role. Still, despite the supply of American HMMWVs to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russia’s purchase of Chinese Desertcross off road vehicles, neither side has fully met this demand. Even small automotive transport for use by reconnaissance units and command staff remain in short supply. As a result, military personnel from both armies have been forced to purchase, refuel, and repair vehicles at their own expense, or to seek out assistance from volunteers.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

A Russian "bukhanka" (UAZ-469) in full camouflage gear, December 2023
A Russian "bukhanka" (UAZ-469) in full camouflage gear, December 2023
Corner of the Sith / Telegram

While the popular saying goes that “amateurs discuss tactics, professionals focus on logistics,” these shifts do not garner as much attention as the flashy advancements in drone utilization. Unlike the concerted efforts seen in Western “drone” or “artillery” support coalitions aiding the Ukrainian Armed Forces, there has been hardly any mention of a similar “automotive” coalition. This raises doubts about whether the lessons from the Russian-Ukrainian war have truly been absorbed by Western nations, let alone by third parties not directly embroiled in the conflict.

Russian military authorities are similarly unlikely to fully appreciate the scale of the problem, as most of the civilian vehicles acquired by its troops do not appear on the balance sheets of military units, meaning there is no comprehensive record of wear and tear, fuel and spare parts consumption, or the extent of losses of such equipment.

The elusive “Red Lines”

Since February 24, 2022, Russian authorities have frequently drawn “red lines” intended to delay Western arms deliveries to Ukraine and to limit Ukraine’s use of Western-made munitions to targets outside of Russia’s borders. These threats have been accompanied by actions including the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus and the Russian withdrawal from the the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Although no significant changes in the positioning or readiness of Russian nuclear forces have been observed, Moscow’s diplomatic efforts have had a tangible effect: the transfer of Western armored vehicles, long-range missiles, and aircraft was successfully delayed for periods ranging from months to years, and some weapons systems, such as German Taurus cruise missiles, remain frozen to this day. The timely delivery of these armaments could have made a significant, if not decisive, contribution to Ukrainian operations, including in its largely disappointing counteroffensive efforts of 2023.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

The Taurus cruise missile, not yet transferred to the Ukrainian Armed Forces
The Taurus cruise missile, not yet transferred to the Ukrainian Armed Forces
Andrea Bienert / Bundeswehr

These delays are all the more frustrating given that real world experience has proven fears of Russian retaliatory actions to have been unfounded — quite simply, the West’s policy of “escalation management” has been overly cautious. None of the deliveries of Western military aid have led to aggressive Russian actions against NATO countries, nor to an increase in attacks on the civilian population of Ukraine, which had already been suffering since the first days of the war. Eventually, so many of the Kremlin’s ”red lines” were crossed — without any consequences — that they have become fodder for memes in the ultra-patriotic Russian Z-sphere.

One of the most characteristic examples was Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's promise to strike at Ukrainian “decision-making centers” in the event of any strike on Crimea by Western-made missiles. Since the threat was made, however, strikes with Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles have been repeatedly carried out on the occupied peninsula. Predictably, the promised response has not materialized.

In Western international relations theory, credibility is a key criterion for any successful deterrence policy. If the target of deterrence does not believe that its opponent’s threat is genuine, then the resulting “red line” will lack the power to constrain the target’s behavior. If that “red line” is crossed and the response remains nothing more potent than renewed verbal threats, it should become clear that the “red line” was, in fact, a bluff.

Time and again, Russia’s “red lines” have proven to be bluffs. This lesson is hardly new. And yet, the Taurus missiles are still not being delivered to Ukraine.

Combat armored vehicle.

SMO stands for Special Military Operation, the official term used in Russia to refer to the full-scale war against Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. The abbreviation is enclosed in quotation marks as it serves as a euphemism.

BTG stands for Battalion Tactical Group, the primary organizational unit of the Russian Armed Forces with a strength of 700-900 personnel. At the current stage of the war in Ukraine, the Russian command has opted not to deploy forces and assets in the form of BTGs.

FPV drones are unmanned aerial vehicles controlled by an operator in first-person view (FPV). The advantage of such systems lies in the fact that the operator can clearly see where the drone is flying (often as a kamikaze), allowing it, for example, to fly into hideouts and target unprotected areas of combat vehicles.

ATGW - Anti-Tank Guided Weapon. It is a relatively compact system for launching guided anti-tank missiles (ATGM), usually portable or installed on armored vehicles.

Direct fire / indirect fire - two methods of firing used by tanks and artillery. With direct fire, the target is within the operator's line of sight, while with indirect fire, projectiles fly beyond the horizon and are directed by coordinates using tables or reconnaissance data, including those obtained by UAVs.

IFV - Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Designed to transport infantry and provide fire support directly on the battlefield.



APC - Armored Personnel Carrier. Designed to transport infantry to the rear, deliver them to the battlefield, and evacuate them.

“Mangal” (literally “grill”), also known as a “visor,” is a lattice structure installed on armored vehicles. Initially, the Russian military hoped that it would protect tanks from Javelin anti-tank guided missiles; however, later on both sides started using them to protect against ammunition drops from drones.

UB - unmanned semi-submersible kamikaze boat. It is often referred to in the media as a maritime drone or unmanned maritime vehicle. It belongs to the category of autonomous unmanned surface vessels (USVs), meaning it is capable of moving on water either through remote control or along a pre-programmed route set in its onboard navigation system. It carries an armament and is intended for use in engaging enemy naval targets.

The large-scale armed conflict in September-November 2020 between the armed forces of Azerbaijan on one side and the armed formations of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia on the other became the bloodiest clash in the region since the end of the Karabakh War in 1994.

SAM stands for surface-to-air missile

“Kinzhal” is a Russian air-launched ballistic missile, adapted from the “Iskander” missile system for launch from an aircraft (most commonly the MiG-31K). It is portrayed by Russian propaganda as hypersonic, although it does not meet modern criteria for such weaponry. Nevertheless, it represents an extremely challenging target for air defense systems.



UPCM stands for Universal Planning and Correction Module. It's a device that has been installed on Russian unguided aviation bombs since 2023, enabling them to fly long distances (according to some reports, up to 70 km) towards a designated target. It consists of wings that unfold after the bomb is dropped. Despite its relatively low accuracy, it allows Russian aviation to deploy munitions outside the range of Ukrainian air defenses.

EW stands for Electronic Warfare, is one of the types of military-technical activities associated with suppressing radio-electronic means and components of enemy control, communication, and reconnaissance systems, as well as protecting one's own similar systems.



MLRS stands for Multiple Rocket Launch System. It's a system that launches rocket projectiles one after another, enhancing the firepower of the barrage.

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