Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 21

The Russian forces operating in Chechnya, war correspondent Mikhail Khodarenok wrote in the July 5 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, are fast running out of ammunition for all their weapon systems. Since they have used up almost all of the shells for the modern artillery systems they possess, they must now make due with “cannons made in 1938,” for which sufficient ammunition remains. Similarly, the military is no longer able to use modern T-80 tanks because they have run out of shells for them. “Therefore the tank soldiers have had to revert to using tanks from the day-before-yesterday, such as the T-62.” Again, there is not enough ammunition for the “Uragan” rapid-fire artillery system, so the 40-year-old Grad system must be employed. They are even, Khodarenok reported, running out of bullets for automatic weapons and other firearms. During the height of the fighting “several million” rounds were expended in a single week. As is well known, many Russian military helicopters are today incapable of flying. Over the past ten years, Khodarenok summed up, the production of shells, bombs and rockets “has fallen almost to zero.” “The yearly production of weaponry and machinery does not exceed what is expended each month in Chechnya.” The state of Russia’s military-industrial complex, in short, “can be characterized as a full-scale catastrophe.” A continuation of a war of the Chechen type for an extended period will soon be physically impossible.