Russia's Unguided Weapons Causing 'Widespread Destruction' in Donbas: UK

The Russian military has become increasingly dependent on unguided weaponry amid munition shortages, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence reported Saturday.

The ministry provided several updates on the military situation in Ukraine, by sharing an info-graphic on Twitter. Among the points shared, it noted that Russian forces working to claim the Donbas region have become increasingly reliant on unguided munitions, due to shortages of the guided varieties.

While a shortage of any sort might at first sound like trouble for Russia, the ministry noted that its increased reliance on unguided strikes, also known as "dumb" bombs, has led to more widespread destruction in Donbas, owing to the Russian military's inability to deploy precision strikes.

"The combined use of air and artillery strikes has been a key factor in Russia's recent tactical successes in the region," the ministry wrote in its update. "The increased use of unguided munitions has led to the widespread destruction of built-up areas in the Donbas and has almost certainly caused substantial collateral damage and civilian casualties."

Newsweek previously reported on the depletion of guided munitions throughout the conflict in Ukraine. Late last month, an unnamed Pentagon official told reporters that the economic sanctions imposed against Russia by the rest of the world "are having a bite on the Russians' ability to replenish those stocks" and that the country has "burned through quite a bit of their precision-guided munitions."

Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at the Rand Corporation, told The Moscow Times that the unguided weapons were likely to "cause a lot of collateral damage." Similar "dumb" munitions were reportedly deployed by Russian forces on March 9, when a maternity hospital in Mariupol was hit, killing three and injuring 17, including some children.

russian military ukraine unguided missiles
The Russian military has become increasingly dependent on unguided weaponry amid munition shortages, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence reported Saturday. Above, a representational shot of Russian weaponry in Ukraine. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. Ministry of Defence added that Russia's air forces remain focused on Donbas, the contested breakaway region of Eastern Ukraine at the heart of Russia's invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin previously claimed that the conflict was conducted in part to liberate Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the region that were allegedly suffering persecution.

"Russia's inability to suppress or destroy Ukrainian strategic air defense systems in the opening days of the conflict limited its ability to provide tactical air support to ground maneuver elements, contributing to the failure to advance on Kyiv," the ministry's update explained.

Despite Putin's earlier claims, state-run media in Russia has recently reported that Russian-speaking Ukrainians have begun fighting back against Russian forces. Journalist Andrei Sidorchik said during an appearance on Russia-1 that "the main backbone of [Ukrainian] fighters" in Donbas "is comprised of Russian speakers and residents of Ukraine's Russian-speaking regions."