Recently, mainstream media went into a frenzy after a report “proved” Russia was producing three times as much ammunition at a quarter of the price of Western manufacturers. But how did they do the math?

A March 11 exclusive report by CNN claimed that Russia was on course to produce three times as much artillery ammunition to support its forces in Ukraine. Artillery ammunition being one of the many munition shortfalls faced by Ukraine

That assertion seemed to be substantiated further by a report, run by the UK’s Sky News on Sunday, May 26, citing an open-source investigation by the US management consultants Bain and Company.

The Bain & Company research said that Russian factories were forecast to manufacture or refurbish about 4.5 million artillery rounds in 2024 compared with a combined production of about 1.3 million rounds across all US and European manufacturers combined.


It then went on to say that the average production cost of a 155mm shell in NATO countries was about $4,000, compared with the “equivalent” 152mm Russian round that comes in at around $1,000 (£790) each.

Needless to say the report was seized on with alacrity by other news outlets, not least by pro-Kremlin outlets such as TASS and Ria Novosti, Ukrainian publications and international media on both sides of the Atlantic.

Once the dust had settled the independent Russian news site Insider decided to look more deeply into the basis of the reports as part of their AntiFake series and concluded that the figures quoted by Sky and all the others were not all they seemed on the surface.

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Its first conclusion was that Bain and Company had significantly underestimated the amount of ammunition that Western countries were able to produce. They cited a statement by Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner that in 2024 EU countries alone will produce 1.3 million shells, with plans to reach 2 million a year in 2025.

US production is also being increased with two current factories producing 36,000 155mm rounds a month and a third facility had just opened in Texas that will produce 30,000 a month with total production slated to ramp up to 100,000 month in 2025.


Neither Insider or Bain and Company took the Czechia-led 155mm artillery ammunition coalition into account. By May 28 it had raised more than €1.6 billion ($1.75 billion), with an aim to supply Ukraine with a million artillery rounds sourced from non-EU manufacturers in the coming year.

Insider then looked at the figures quoted for Russian production and concluded that the researchers were guilty of comparing “apples and pears.” It said that Bain and Company “…had made the same mistake that we have already seen many times by journalists and other consulting companies.”

That mistake was the Russian numbers did not only include 152mm artillery ammunition but all calibers of artillery ammunition as well as 152mm and 122mm rockets to get to the 4.5 million figure.

Insider considers the quality of Bain & Company’s analysis to be poor looks as if they hadn’t consulted any military experts which Insider “Some kind of rookie mistake,” and that the picture painted was nowhere near as gloomy as its report suggested.

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