• Apollon Bairaktaridis

The Business of War in Ukraine l

On 24 February 2022 Russia announced the beginning of a “special military operation” in Ukraine to provoke a regime change. This event extended and escalated the Ukrainian war that occurred since 2014 from the east part of the country to the whole of it. Seven months later, the war is still going on. According to warfare experts, there exists no doubt that the war will continue also into the year 2023. Its outcome remains uncertain, yet we can perceive the involvement of many international actors in it. An observation that reflects a tragic reality of modern wars, namely the arms industry that is advertised through the events on the battlefronts. In the following, there will be a short series introducing some of the different weapon systems used in Ukraine to exemplify the business behind the war.

The M777 Howitzer in action in Ukraine. (Photo: Ukrainian Army)

Chapter 1: The American M777 Howitzer The M777 Howitzer is used as an artillery tool. It became well known as one of the first heavy weapons delivered to Ukraine from its western allies to confront Russian artillery. Although it is vulnerable to aerial attacks such as from drones or from warplanes, its usage confirmed its ability to defend open terrain while being able to hit within an area of 36 km. In the past, the US Army deployed it in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Although it was used in Afghanistan, the country’s mountainous landscapes did not allow the military analysts to collect data on its effectiveness for open field combat. Nevertheless, this kind of situation was given in the Iraq war. Since the USA successfully completed its invasion of Iraq within 2 months, this development did not permit them to draw a conclusion over its reliability against a stronger opponent and over a longer period. In Ukraine, the Howitzer proved its ability to stabilize the front against the second most powerful military of the 21st century, and this over a longer period. With the continuing of the war, more data will be available for its effectiveness over an even longer period. Countries such as Australia, Canada, India, and Saudi Arabia already possess units of the M777 howitzer. They are observing closely its combat experience in Ukraine and positive results might increase the demand of purchasing new units. Moreover, other states could be convinced to join as well by starting negotiations with the US government to apply for it. This remains at this moment nothing but pure speculation, but as the international world order crumbles and the upgrading of military arsenals becomes a priority for a plethora of states, the M777 Howitzer will remain in the spotlight and will not exit it soon.

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