Russia May Never Run Out of Precision Munitions

Wes O'Donnell
5 min readFeb 23, 2024

Making the case for a strong Ukrainian air defense network.

If you’ve been reading my content for a while, you know that in late 2022 I wrote a piece for Medium about how the Kremlin was running low on precision munitions.

At first glance, that article doesn’t seem to have aged very well; after all, the title of this piece directly contradicts the title of my previous piece. I failed to anticipate the Kremlin’s wily ability to source technology from other countries’ supply chains.

As we’ve seen, long-range missile strikes against Ukrainian cities have been a prominent and persistent aspect of the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.

Russia’s vast, Ukraine-wide bombardments that we witnessed early in the war were, and still are, unsustainable at that volume.

But what I failed to realize in that earlier piece is that Russia has a knack for eluding export controls and taking advantage of “dual-use” technology that bypasses import restrictions.

Let’s dive in…

The dynamics of Russia’s missile campaign have evolved considerably since the start of the war. In 2022, speculation about the depletion of Russia’s precision-guided missile reserves gained traction in the intelligence community.

While there was certainly some truth to this, Russia has managed to maintain a consistent, albeit lower volume of missile strikes, by reallocating resources from other theaters like Syria and tapping into strategic reserves.

They’ve also adapted various missile types for land attack roles, but mostly, they have been able to continue domestic missile production, despite sanctions.

Foreground blurred by the author. A street in Kyiv following Russian missile strikes on 10 October 2022. Main Directorate of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Kyiv. CC-BY-4.0

While it is true that the composition of Russian missile attacks has shifted over time, with a noticeable trend towards employing less sophisticated, more economical munitions, the decline in the quality of Russian strikes is not expected to persist indefinitely.

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Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security guy at War is Boring, GEN, OneZero | Intel Forecaster | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Pro-Democracy | Pro-Human Rights