Russia is running out of rounds as its invasion of Ukraine hits nearly a year, according to U.S. and Ukraine officials cited in a new report.
CNN reports that Russia's artillery fire has significantly decreased from its peak during the battle, by as much as 75% in some locations.
Nearly a year after its invasion, the startling decrease in artillery fire is more proof of Russia's deteriorating military posture, according to US and Ukrainian officials, who spoke to CNN.
It also happens at a time when Ukraine is receiving more military assistance from its allies in the west. The U.S. and Germany announced last week that they would be giving Ukrainian forces armored fighting vehicles for the first time, as well as another Patriot Defense missile battery to help defend its skies.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian forces attacked a weapons storage in Makiivka, eastern Ukraine, destroying more Russian supplies and killing scores of Russian troops stationed nearby.
The strike also prompted concerns among famous Russian military bloggers about the Russian military brass's fundamental competency, as they had allegedly decided to house hundreds of Russian troops adjacent to an obvious Ukrainian target.
"Maybe this one strike is a drop in the bucket, but the bucket is getting smaller," a U.S. defense official said, alluding to Russia's depleting stocks.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be scrambling to build up domestic political support for a conflict he initially described as a limited "special military operation," according to U.S. intelligence sources.
According to two people familiar with the intelligence, U.S. officials believe that the 36-hour ceasefire Putin ordered in Ukraine last week to allow for the celebration of Orthodox Christmas was an effort to appease Russia's sizable Christian population as well as a chance for Putin to accuse Ukrainians of breaking it and portray them as heretical heathens.
According to a US defense official, the Russians' rate of fire is not linearly falling; on some days, they continue to fire much more artillery rounds, especially in the area of the eastern Ukrainian cities of Bakhmut and Kreminna and some areas close to Kherson in the south.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials have given significantly disparate estimates of Russian fire, with U.S. officials claiming that the rate has reduced from 20,000 rounds per day on average to roughly 5,000 per day. According to Ukraine, the rate has reduced from 60,000 to 20,000 per day.
Ukraine's counter-offensives last fall against Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the north resulted in humiliating defeats for Russia - and were greatly aided by sophisticated western weaponry supplied by the U.S., such as HIMARS rocket launchers, Howitzer artillery systems, and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.