Artillery vehicle

Watch: Russia abandoned some of its most powerful artillery in Ukraine

Ukraine accumulates victories and also obtains beautiful war rewards: Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s announcement on Sunday of the liberation of the town of Izyum in Kharkiv Oblast, images and videos shared online show how quickly Russian forces retreated from the battlefield .

Video footage and photographs shared over the past week show Ukrainian soldiers posing in front of abandoned Russian howitzers and military vehicles, all of which appear functional and largely undamaged. This indicates that the Russian troops did not expect the Ukrainians to gain as much territory as they did and so quickly.

Ukraine’s president used his late-night address on Sunday to confirm that Ukrainian troops had taken full control of the strategic city of Izyum, which had previously been under Russian control. He also announced that his forces had “liberated hundreds” of towns and villages, including Balaklia and Kupiansk, two other important towns in the northeast region.

During the address, Zelenskyy noted the speed with which the Russians withdrew.

“The enemies said they got lost, they were going to an exercise. You taught them a lot,” he said. “The ability to dress quickly and get out of our lands, and to understand that by dropping equipment and weapons, it can be done much faster and easier.”

What the videos and pictures show

A Telegram article showed photographs of abandoned Russian Mstsa-S howitzers as well as an abandoned 2S3 Akatsiya howitzer on the roads of Izyum.

“Our servicemen in Izyum today received another batch of Lend-Lease from Rashists,” Pravda Gerashchenko’s Telegram message read in Russian.

“Organized retreat ‘so half the gear was abandoned,” the post continues, per Google Translate.

Additional photographs and video were shared by the popular war follower Ukrainian Weapons Tracker Twitter account.

“The Ukrainian 25th Airborne Brigade captured two Msta-SM2 152 mm self-propelled howitzers in #Kharkiv Oblast, as well as another logistics vehicle; one of the SPGs has already been seen,” reads a post, which includes photographs of Ukrainian soldiers holding their weapons and standing in front of the abandoned Russian vehicles.

Another video also shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker shows a Russian Msta-SM2 152mm self-propelled howitzer that was captured by Ukrainian forces during the ongoing counteroffensive in Kharkiv.

“A very modern Russian Msta-SM2 152 mm self-propelled howitzer was captured by the Ukrainian army during the #Kharkiv counter-offensive,” the message read.

The most powerful howitzers in Russia

The “very modern” comment in the Ukraine Weapons Tracker post can be construed as mockery and sarcasm, as is often the case in online wartime posts, but Ukraine Weapons Tracker was literal. While Russian forces remain reliant on many Soviet-era machines, the 152mm Msta-SM2 seen in the video is an updated and improved version of the howitzer that features an updated barrel and has a range of longer shot.

The updated version also featured automatic fire control systems with improved rate of fire and digital mapping.

The 2S3 Akatsiya, a tank first developed in 1968 that has seen at least six variants developed since then, has also been seen in videos and photographs. The howitzer was updated in the mid-1970s, then in the late 1980s, and again in 2000. Although by no means the most modern equipment still in use by the Russian military, it remains powerful enough for the Russian army. utilize. As of 2007, over 1,000 2S3 howitzers were in active service, and a thousand more were in storage. The Russian Navy also had over 400 in active service at this time. Tanks were also used extensively throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine that year.

Over the years, the howitzer has been significantly modernized. In May 2021, the most recent updated versions of the tanks were delivered by Ultransmash. The howitzers were updated to the 2S3M2 configuration, which saw the vehicles fitted with modern communications equipment.

An Msta-SM self-propelled howitzer fires during a field display at Patriot Park as part of the Army 2020 International Military Technical Forum. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS/Russian State Media.

Newer versions of the tank can also fire the Krasnopol 152mm laser-guided artillery shell, designed to hit targets with greater accuracy.

As Russia struggles to replenish the more than 2,000 tanks lost in the Ukraine war so far, as well as the more than 5,000 military vehicles in total, the abandonment of howitzers like these is particularly problematic. As Russian troops retreat across the Russian border, the Kremlin and senior Russian military officials must now devise a plan to regain ground in the northeast – as well as Donbass – while facing a continued bombardment by the more advanced HIMARS rocket systems still gifted to Ukraine by the United States.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher and journalist based in New York. Reporting from the UK, Europe and the US, it strives to analyze and understand left and right radicalisation, and reports on Western government approaches to pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and offer pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.