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Artillery in Ukraine – A Critical Evaluation

Written by: Laurentiu-Andrei Oltei, Julien Potin, and Emile Clarke

Edited by: Chiara Nasonte

Supervised by: María Cecilia Rosa Yáñez

This study will critically evaluate defence and international affairs specialist James Bosbotinis’ article (2023) titled ‘The Lessons of the Ukraine War and its Implications for Artillery,’ weighing up its strengths while also providing analysis on the topic of artillery in Ukraine. Bosbotinis’ article is an in-depth and well-sourced study of what NATO and its Western allies more generally can learn from the tactics and weapon systems used by both sides of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Presenting an exhaustive analysis of the use of artillery, it evaluates the complementary nature of higher-end precision or guided systems and cheaper unguided conventional weapons. The nature of the war has highlighted the vulnerabilities that NATO countries could encounter if they were to directly engage against Russia. From munitions stockpiles to the risks associated with having large logistical chains, to the ever-increasing importance of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), artillery seems to have proven itself to be a key player in the waging of modern warfare.

However, in a context that has witnessed the employment of a varied range of weapon systems and their respective tactical use, artillery is only one part of a broader set of lessons that can be drawn from the conflict. The particularity of Bosbotinis’ work stems from his choice to exclusively focus on artillery. Although this approach limits the article in the exploration of other key factors brought to light by the conflict, purely focusing on artillery is a defendable point of view. Often referred to as the ‘King of Battle’ within the broader military consciousness, artillery has occupied a key role on the battlefield for extended periods of history, and the Russo-Ukrainian war has proven to be no outlier.