Petr Pavel Sinks the Russian Offensive

Breakthroughs don’t come easy, but when they do

Shankar Narayan
5 min readMar 18, 2024
Ukraine has a few decisions to make (Licensed Image)

What can one man do?

Apparently, a whole lot.

As per a recent report from WSJ, “Czech Republic has secured 800,000 artillery ammunition from a variety of suppliers around the globe, and has also found another 700,000 that can be secured with additional funding. The total purchase of 1.5 million shells will cost $3.3 billion”

It wasn’t that long ago when Czech President Petr Pavel announced that he could procure 800,000 shells for Ukraine provided funding could be secured. He made the announcement at the Munich Security Conference on February 17th.

By March 5th, the Czech President announced that a small group of nations had committed enough money to buy the shells.

But news kept streaming in as more and more countries kept adding money into the pile. I did not know what was happening. Now it has become clear why the allies kept adding euros to the money pile: Ukraine is going to get 1.5 million shells, not the 800,000 shells as we were told earlier.

(Sorry, I tried for a few minutes, but could not resist the temptation). I wrote the following on March 7th:

Czech President Petr Pavel “is not going to give the entire check list of what is being bought and what is not. He said there are 800,000 shells that can be brought from outside the EU. I think the real number will be a lot higher than the public announcement”.

1.5 million artillery shells changes a lot of things. It will rearrange the battlefield as we know it.

At the start of the war, the Russians were firing a humongous 63,000 shells per day, while Ukraine was firing a paltry 4,000 shells.

It was all indiscriminate firing at anything and everything that could possibly be thought of. After Russia’s scorched-earth tactics started yielding results in the form of multiple towns in eastern Ukraine, the United States responded by giving Ukraine Multiple Rocket Launcher systems(HIMARS) in June 2022. That was the time the battlefield started changing in favor of Ukraine.

From hiding, escaping, and launching hit-and-run tactics, Ukraine took the attack to the Russians. Ukraine made full use of the precision strike capability offered by HIMARS to make life a living trouble for Russian troops in Kherson oblast. They pounded the Antonovsky bridge until it became too weak to be used for military transport.

Screenshot from NYTIMES on November 2022

The Russian army was forced to use ferries to transport goods. When Ukrainian forces started advancing on Russian troops stationed on the other side of the Dnipro River, the supply-squeezed Russian troops had no choice but to retreat.

During that period, Russia was firing around 20,000 shells per day, compared to 5,000 shells by the Ukrainian army. The ratio difference between the two forces is not a great indicator of combat power balance between the two sides. There is a threshold. Above that number, Ukraine becomes a formidable force. Below that number, Ukraine struggles.

  • Looking at the graph above and the events that unfolded on the battlefield over the last two years, I believe that 4,000 shells per day is the threshold.
  • Above this level, Ukraine gains flexibility.
  • Around 4,000 shells per day, they can defend the frontline.
  • If the number drops to 2,000 per day, Ukraine gets into trouble.

Ukraine is now all set to receive 1.5 million artillery shells. This stock will allow Ukraine to fire 4,100 artillery shells per day for 12 months, or 8,200 shells per day from April 2024 until September 2024.

Rheinmetall AG, Europe’s largest manufacturer of artillery shells, has a current production capacity of 37,500 shells per month, which is equivalent to 1,250 shells per day. I anticipate total European production to surpass 1.2 million shells annual by the end of this year, approximately 3,333 shells per day.

Adding that up, Ukraine is now looking at a sustained firing rate of 5,250 to 7,500 shells per day for the next 12 months.

This battlefield will not be the same anymore.

What will Ukraine do now?

I am not sure.

They can stockpile the shells and stay on a conservative expenditure mode for a bit longer. They can choose to lie low and refrain from attacking the Russians until the F16s arrive. This way, they can have a short period when they can fire in excess of 8,000 shells per day and decimate certain Russian pockets on the frontline.

Or they can immediately start targeting one or two sectors with a heavy firing rate while maintaining a holding pattern everywhere else. I have no idea which direction Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi will move.

The good news for Ukraine is that the string of bad luck they encountered over the last three months has finally come to an end. But there is another piece of great news. I hope you took notice of what I have done. I completely excluded any supply from the United States of America.

Vladimir Putin, Victor Orban and Donald Trump keep thinking that stopping American aid will result in Russia’s victory. Nope. May be that was the case at the start of the 2023. But not anymore.

There is only one thing Ukraine needs from America: to supply missiles for the Patriot battery. They can keep everything else to themselves. I feel pathetic writing this, but Ukraine cannot depend on unreliability. I hope the Biden administration figures out a way to navigate the political gridlock. There are around 36 Democrats who have yet to sign the discharge petition that would force a vote in the House, circumventing the Speaker, and clearing the Ukraine aid.

No one knows if it will happen or when it will happen. It is not worth planning anything based on what this Congress will or won’t do. President Biden has emergency powers to send the air-defense missiles to Ukraine. I think he will do it if it ever comes to that.

And for the rest, we have President Petr Pavel to take care of.

He has provided a clear path for Ukraine. Now it is up to them to bring this one home. This is the best news I have written since the start of this year. This changes everything.

Did I say… Everything.

The way Western media covers the war against Ukraine has gone off-track. As a result, I have decided to make my Ukraine stories public, without placing them behind the paywall.



Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.