Espreso. Global
Review

Ukraine extremely needs Italian M109L self-propelled artillery systems. Military expert Serhiy Zgurets

17 April, 2023 Monday
16:33

The M109L self-propelled artillery systems provided by Italy to Ukraine are necessary at the front line and to equip brigades before the Ukrainian Defense Forces offensive

Release of Ukrainian prisoners of war

First of all, let me start with the fact that 130 Ukrainian prisoners of war returned home on Easter: soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Territorial Defense Forces, the National Guard, and border guards. This was reported by the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War. This is a really good event, especially as Easter approaches. According to the headquarters, since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, 2,235 Ukrainians have been released. Of course, we want everyone to come home. 

Weapons supply by Italy

Another piece of good news is the supply of weapons by Italy. So far, Italy and France are preparing to provide Samp-T surface-to-air missile systems. Ukrainian military are already trained to operate it. The SAM has not yet arrived, but at least 30 powerful 155 mm M109L guns from Italy are already in the Ukrainian army’s arsenal. Another batch of these guns is on its way to Ukraine. All in all, Italy is to provide 30 M109L self-propelled howitzers, which were taken from the Italian army's stockpile and repaired at US expense. The range of fire, depending on the type of projectile, is up to 30 kilometers. It takes a minute to open fire and 30 seconds to leave the position. These self-propelled artillery systems are extremely needed both at the front line and to equip the brigades that are being formed for the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Snipers’ role at the front line

Ukrainian religious scholar and philosopher, Ukrainian Armed Forces sniper Yuriy Chornomorets notes that the main novelty of Christianity as a worldview is that all people are equal before God, free, not just a certain class. Christianity speaks of the sanctity of life, the absolute dignity of everyone. It is this absolute dignity, freedom, and holiness that we are defending at the front line. Sniping is a way to surgically remove important targets on the battlefield and create panic among the enemy. The enemy is often afraid of HIMARS and snipers. If there is sniper terror at the front line, we can hear from Russians' talks that their moods are changing and that they all want to refuse to fight and flee. This is very important and brings the victory closer in the most humane way, removing cancerous tumors - commanders and gunners. By instilling panic, it is necessary to change the mood of the Russian army, to terrorize it so much that, like in 1917, they leave the front line and flee Ukraine. According to Yuriy Chornomorets, last decade the question arose of how to drive the enemy away from the "road of life" to Bakhmut. It is very important that snipers from Bohun's 1st Brigade, the 8th Regiment of the Special Forces and some other units took up positions with 50 mm caliber, armor-piercing incendiaries, in particular, they managed to set fire to camouflage nets on Russian positions, and very successfully aimed artillery. Then, on the first day of the counteroffensive, they managed to push the enemy back 4 kilometers, and on the next day - another 1 kilometer. The massive use of 50 mm snipers was a lifesaver. The guys shot a month's supply of ammunition in a few days. A huge number of battles, enemy casualties, and panic inducing changed the course of the battle. Ukraine’s rather successful defense in Bakhmut is also due to snipers’ performance. People are taking risks. One of the groups was almost killed, had to retreat through the basements, shooting back at each new building, while 2 guys were looking for a way to get to the next building. Then, moving around, they saved themselves. The fighting was very fierce. Even when we retreat, the enemy suffers huge losses. It is very good that the guys know how to save themselves, because 20% of the success is to shoot accurately, 20% is to disguise yourself well, and 20% is to leave the position correctly.

Time required to train snipers

Yuriy Chornomorets explained that if there are 6 snipers, they are commanded by someone who has been in the profession for 5 to 15 years. This ensures effective command. Now they are even forming entire sniper companies, where experience is the most important criterion, followed by officer ranks, etc. They also take a person who is a ready-made sniper, but has been working with 308 mm caliber all his life. Then in 1 to 4 months they can retrain him to 338 mm, 50 mm, 416 mm, 375 mm, so that he can fight effectively. However, after 4 months of long-range sniping training, it is preferable if a person at the front line acts as part of a group led by experienced soldiers. This allows you to survive. There have been unfortunate cases when 4 months of training were spent and people died on the first day because they went out in pairs. Cover should be provided by 6 to 10 snipers. The same number of scouts is needed for other specialists who cover snipers. Yuriy Chornomorets said that they have issued 115 rifles and so far 2 snipers have been killed, 2 more injured, and 1 person has been discharged due to numerous contusions and underpayments in the army. Others are still fighting. Payments are a critical need, because if snipers are trained for years, including by foreigners, and then paid UAH 21,000 ( approximately USD 564), even though they are fighting in Bakhmut the whole time, some of them quit. We need to think over this system and bring normal payments back.

Bucharest Forum 

The fate of our war is decided not only on the battlefield. Much depends on the attitude of our partners to further prospects, conditions and resources for further victory. A new stage of pluralism is beginning, when Western outlets begin to assess differently the prospects for our counteroffensive and settlement with Russia after the active phase of hostilities. Andriy Ryzhenko, an expert at the Center for Defense Strategies, Captain 1st Rank of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Reserve, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Navy in 2004 to 2020, said that more than 40 countries that support Ukraine participated in the forum in Romania. It was both political and diplomatic, because these countries supported us. Strengthening Ukraine’s sea capabilities was discussed at the expert level. There were no statements at the political level. Mine countermeasures have been discussed very seriously, especially after the end of hostilities in the Black Sea, because the mine threat is very serious. This was also discussed at the trilateral talks between Ukraine, Romania, and Moldova. During the forum, the Romanian Navy destroyed a sea mine near Constanta. They also raised the issue of consolidating the efforts of the Black Sea countries to counteract events such as Russia's war against Ukraine, as the navies of Bulgaria and Romania are rearming. Turkey has modern weapons, but does not use them very actively in the Black Sea. We emphasized that NATO should be more active in the Black Sea. If it is not possible to involve only the Black Sea countries, then other countries should be involved. All participants supported Ukraine in restoring its territorial integrity.

The forum did not discuss the counteroffensive, but did delve upon the de-occupation of Crimea. Everyone supports the fact that it should be liberated. However, according to experts, there are different ways of de-occupation. Along with military methods, diplomatic and economic ones should be used. Our needs should be seriously substantiated. There is a desire to help us, but sometimes we lack arguments. Countries ask us to explain in more detail why certain systems are needed, how we see their maintenance and upkeep.

Andriy Ryzhenko noted that the conference also actively discussed intelligence leaks, but he did not see any consequences for US relations with Ukraine and other partners.

Russia's short-term actions 

Russians continue to put pressure. There is information that they are returning General Teplynsky, the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, to command the troops. He is constantly maintaining an offensive pace. Russians will try to maintain this pace as much as possible. They are very much preparing for defense in the southern Ukraine, in the northern Crimea, where there are so many fortifications, not even the Great War has seen as many.

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